Nearly half of Duval County 3rd graders perform below grade level in Language Arts

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Nearly half of third grade students in Duval County are performing below their grade level in Language Arts, according to new numbers from the Florida Department of Education.

Students in Duval’s neighboring counties are all performing significantly higher.

“That’s bothersome. That’s really troublesome,” said Juanita Rivera Henry, a mother of twin third graders at an elementary school on Jacksonville’s southside.

According to the state, these are the percentages of third grade students who performed at or above grade level in Language Arts on the 2019 Florida Standards Assessments:

  • Duval: 51 percent
  • St. Johns: 78 percent
  • Nassau: 75 percent
  • Baker: 73 percent
  • Clay: 68 percent

“That makes me feel like, for Duval, they either need to step it up or try a little bit harder. Not really per se the students, but maybe the curriculum throughout the year,” said Henry.

Last week, the Florida Education Commissioner tore into Duval County Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene about the lack of progress this school year for the 10 worst-performing schools in the district.

Commissioner Richard Corcoran suggested charter operator Idea Academy take over those schools instead.

“Why don’t you give half of them to Idea and half of them you keep, and let’s see how it works? Are we afraid of that competition?” said Corcoran on May 22.

Twenty-one Duval County public schools have school grades of D or F.

Duval County Public Schools’ spokesperson told Action News Jax that Greene was not available for an interview, but sent a statement that says in part:

"All students begin their third grade year with a diagnostic test of their reading ability... Teachers have a wide range of instructional strategies and lessons customized for each student's current level of performance to chart the best path for the student's success... In teacher teams and with school administrators, school staff routinely review each student's reading results. During these reviews, the reading prescription for the student will be adjusted."