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Flagler School District Maintains A for 4th Year in a Row As Elementaries Shine

| June 30, 2011

Still on top. (FlaglerLive)

The Flagler County school district maintained its A rating for the fourth year in a row in 2011, on the strength of substantial improvements in standardized test results in some schools–particularly Rymfire, Wadsworth and Old Kings elementaries–and other schools maintaining their high achievement.

The grade is also a reflection of Janet Valentine’s first full year as superintendent. “She was well prepared to take over and keep us rolling down the right path,” School Board Chairman Sue Dickinson said. “Her time behind Bill gave her the information and the necessary plan that was in place before that she may have tweaked to her liking and continue to take us to where we want to be.”

“We are very, very excited,” Valentine said, interrupting the tail end of a school board meeting this morning, just after 10 a.m., to make the announcement. “I just want to congratulate everyone. I’m very proud of everyone.”

Belle Terre Elementary lengthened its streak of A’s to six years in a row, the longest in the district. Belle Terre has maintained that A since it opened. Also earning an A: Old Kings, Wadsworth, Rymfire, Buddy Taylor Middle School and Indian Trails Middle School. Rymfire achieved the largest gain, jumping from a C to an A. Wadsworth and Old Kings both improved from a B last year.

Bunnell Elementary maintained its B.

Charter schools’ grades also figure into the district’s overall grade. Charter schools did less well. Imagine School at Town Center dropped from an A to a C. Grades for Palm Harbor Academy and Heritage Academy are not in yet because they include a high school component, though the elementary grades that they have recorded project less than stellar school grades.

Dickinson was more critical of the fact that charter schools’ grades are lumped with regular public schools’ grades, potentially weighing them down. “I don’t think that’s fair,” Dicknson said. “If we can’t control them and they don’t have to answer to us to our liking, then I don’t think it’s fair that their grades affect our grades, because they are under a totally different administration, and my main concern right now is Heritage, because they had an F last year. If they pull another F this year, we’re going to have some real difficulties.”

The charter schools’ grades are not affecting the overall district grade significantly because enrollment in charter schools is still relatively small, though growing. Imagine is completing an expansion that will almost double its enrollment capacity.

Matanzas and Flagler Palm Coast High School’s grades are also not in yet. Both scored B last year. But whatever their grade for this year, it won’t affect the district’s A rating, because the two high schools’ FCAT components have already been calculated into the district’s overall results, says Jim Devine, the district’s testing coordinator.

“We have fantastic teachers in Flagler County, and we have fantastic support personnel to help us,” Katie Hansen, president of the Flagler County Education Association, the teachers union, said, “and we do have good leadership here–and we do appreciate what the administrators have done.”

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15 Responses for “Flagler School District Maintains A for 4th Year in a Row As Elementaries Shine”

  1. Alice in Wonderland says:

    I Wonder how many erasure marks it took for it to get there. Curiousier and Curiouser!

    Will be interesting to see what happens next year with the reduce school days and less teachers. Those redundant high paying administrators and district personnel shuffling paper around and keeping seats warm, have no impact on student achievement. Is it possible to get the salaries of these folks? Or is this confidential information?

  2. Lucine says:

    Looks like the public school teachers have risen to the occasion AGAIN! Now Rick Scott needs to follow his own advice: LET’S GET TO WORK!

    Good job Teachers! DESPITE the hardships imposed by our faulty fluke of a governor.

  3. Rob says:

    Looks to me like Mrs. Valentine did it all.

  4. Binkey says:

    Good job teachers, staff, students, parents and administrators. It takes everyone to have a successful year.

    Alice can you support any of your claims?

  5. Lucine says:

    To Binkey: Of course she cannot support her claims. She is just being silly!

    Silly silly silly!

    Hooray to the hard working public school educators and kids!!!

  6. Out of curiosity says:

    Great job under increasingly difficult circumstances!

  7. Frances says:

    Congratulations teachers, administrators and students! We have excellent schools in Flagler County and are blessed to have the dedicated educators that we have at all levels. I’m just against the entire testing system.

  8. Darren May says:

    Alice in Wonderland, you may need to go back down the hole. There were 75 students in the district who had erasure marks that came into question and only 3 out of the 75 erased and made corrections in their favor. A high number of erasures could have occurred due to several reasons. So, your implication that cheating occurred is unfounded. Maybe the student skipped a question and then filled in the wrong bubble and thus got off sequence and did not realized the problem until the end of the exam.

    To the students, teachers, administrators and support personnel, excellent job once again. Keep up the good work and strive for excellence and continue to prepare the citizens of tomorrow.

  9. Alice in Wonderland says:

    Yes! do let’s prepare them for tomorrow. Let’s not have them get to 12th grade only to realize they’ve been duped.

    BTW, erasure marks are not the only method, miming the correct letter, and other creative methods have also been used.

    Remember this article from last August -

    Florida’s High School Students Near Bottom in College Readiness; Flagler’s Do Worse

    FlaglerLive | August 19, 2010

    “The Flagler County school district may have scored an overall A for the third year in a row when measured by the state’s self-contained Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, which has no relationship with national standards. When it comes to college readiness, neither Flagler nor Florida have much to be proud of. ”

    For the full article – http://flaglerlive.com/9445/florida-flagler-act-scores-2010

    Oh the horror! How could this possibly be? We’re an A district!

  10. Merrill says:

    The teachers in the classroom–where the rubber meets the road–are to be congratulated again! Too bad the State of Florida is going to kick them in the teeth once again. Isn’t there some rule of economics that says something about increased productivity leading to increased rewards?

  11. Merrill says:

    School Board Chair Sue Dickinson needs to read Florida Statutes 1002.33 Charter schools. She and the school board have the power to terminate the charter of Heritage Academy for cause! It seems to me that a blatant and conspicuous academic deficiency–as it earning a grade of F–is cause aplenty!

  12. Rob says:

    yes, it is called put the majority of the lottery money in education.

  13. Alice in Wonderland says:

    Investigating Charter Schools Fraud In Philadelphia – June 27, 2011

    “Charter schools are taxpayer-funded schools that are overseen by their own independent boards. Because of their independence, they are allowed to do things that traditional public schools cannot do. School administrators can experiment with things like the length of the school day and the makeup of each school’s curriculum.

    With that freedom, charter schools have become academic beacons for parents looking to find the best and safest schooling options for their children. But the system’s lack of oversight has also created problems. In recent years, there have been investigations in states, including California, Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania, which found charter school CEOs taking money from their own schools, putting unqualified relatives on their payrolls and engaging in other questionable activities.

    At one school,… , parents raised concerns in 2008 after school administrators told them that there was no money available for special education students.

    “The school kept saying ‘We don’t have money [for these students],’…. “However, there was money being spent on all kinds of other issues. [When parents] raised questions at the Board of Trustees meetings, [they] were basically told, ‘We don’t want you asking questions.’ ”

    In addition, both the school’s founding CEO and his successor had relatives on the school’s payroll. The founding CEO’s wife was the head of the board of trustees.

    “They were making more money and supervising people who had far more experience and more credentials than they had,” she says. “In order to keep the school open, the Philadelphia School District required the top administrators to leave and required a replacement of the board, and the board then basically fired all of the relatives. They wanted to sever all ties with all of the families involved.”…

    “We’ve had cases here where large numbers of family members are on the payroll and [other instances where there were] contracts awarded to relatives and friends that include leases on luxury cars,” …. “Part of the problem that we have found is that the boards that are overseeing some of these schools are not involved as deeply as they should be. … They may be friends of the CEO and therefore they’re reluctant to provide the type of oversight that they should be providing.””

    http://www.npr.org/2011/06/27/137444337/what-happens-when-charter-schools-fail

    *** What is interesting to note that this can happen in ANY school and in ANY district and that is why parents and concerned citizens need to ask questions. Of course, when those who choose to respond say ‘silly, silly, silly’ and ‘go back down your hole’ – one has to ‘WONDER’ even more if there is truth in there somewhere. Especially when thes story of ‘Flagler’s High Erasure Marks’ did not make the news here. Mr. Devine, are these ‘proctors’ unaffiliated with the district and have no personal stakes in the outcomes?

    Maybe the good folks in Tallahassee will investigate.

  14. Outsider says:

    Wow…now what; FCAT gate? It sounds like everyone involved deserves congratulations.

  15. Alice in Wonderland says:

    @ Insider – though you probably know about this

    Two years ago Vertigo, the plant nursery, had a school wide contest whereby the community – students, teachers, parents, etc – would log on to Vertigo’s website and vote for their individual school to win a landscape makeover. From day one, there was widespread cheating, students at all levels were being taught to cheat by voting multiple times a day even though, the rules stated they could only vote once. When word got to Vertigo about what was going on, they voided the votes, implemented a system that allowed only one vote per day per computer, and restarted the contest from scratch.

    This did not stop some, students were shown how to cheat the system by clearing out the cookies on the computers by logging on through Firefox instead of Explorer, which then allowed them to vote multiple times a day like before. Some kids complained because they did not want to cheat and were left alone, while some that didn’t mind continued with the cheating. And this was just for a few plants.

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