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Jefferson County students score among lowest in the state in English Language Arts and Geometry

colorful pens pencils and scissors in buckets on a shelf
Laura Rivera

The Department of Education released Math and English Language Arts statewide test scores this week. Jefferson County School District had the lowest third-grade English Language Arts score and the lowest high school Geometry score in the state. The results come as local school officials prepare to regain control of the Jefferson school district Friday from charter school operator Somerset Academy.

Just 19% of third-graders in the Jefferson School District scored proficient on the English Language Arts test—a 9-point drop from last year. Geometry scores for grades 9-through-12 fell from 24% in 2021 to just 7% of students receiving proficient scores this year.

Jefferson County School Board member Bill Brumfield said once Somerset officially gives oversight back on Friday local leaders can implement their plan to raise academic achievement. He said many of the charter school operator's teachers were not certified.

"You know I told you about the guy they just hired from Captain D's Fish House one night. Somebody hired him and brought him over to teach math," Brumfield said. "He didn't have any idea of what he was doing."

Brumfield said Jefferson school officials are replacing those teachers with highly qualified ones.

Test scores for some Jefferson students did increase this year. Fifth-graders improved their English Language Arts scores—going from 26% to 43% of students receiving proficient scores.

Jefferson County School District was placed under the control of charter school operator Somerset Academy five years ago because of poor academic performance and financial mismanagement. But DOE agreed to allow the school board to regain oversight of the district earlier this year.

About 27% of Gadsden County School District third-graders were proficient on the English Language Arts test, with Franklin County coming in next locally at 42%. Leon County had 54% of third-graders proficient and Wakulla County saw 55% of its third-graders score proficient.

Sarah Mueller is a journalist who has worked for media outlets in several states since 2010. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2010 and worked as a print reporter covering local government and politics.