Florida third-graders showed improvement on a key reading test this spring, with 59 of the state's 67 school districts reporting increases in scores, according to the state Department of Education.

Statewide, 58 percent of the 228,104 students who took the test this year gained at least a “satisfactory” score, compared to 54 percent who took the Florida Standards Assessments language-arts test last year, the department reported Friday.

The scores are important because third-graders who score at the lowest level, a 1 on a 5-point scale, may have to repeat the third grade. More than 43,000 students are in that category this year, although many can still advance with higher scores on other tests or by demonstrating proficiency through classwork.

64 percent of Washington County's 249 third graders netted passing scores, slightly up from 62 percent in 2016. In Holmes County, 56 percent of the district's 267 third graders passed, also a slight improvement from 2016, which reported a 55 percent passing rate.

St. Johns County was at the top in the state with 80 percent of its third-graders passing the test. It was followed by Nassau, 78 percent; Santa Rosa, 74 percent; and Gilchrist, 72 percent.

Miami-Dade, the largest district with more than 28,400 third-graders taking the test, had a 58 percent passing rate. A half-dozen districts reported declines in passing rates, with the biggest drop in Gadsden County, which had a 34 percent passing rate. DeSoto had the lowest passing rate in the state at 31 percent, while Hamilton was next-lowest at 32 percent.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.