There’s quite a bit of good and some bad in the Flagler County school and district grades the state Department of Education released today.
The report is decidedly better than last year, principally for two reasons.
First, even though Flagler remains a B district for the fifth year in a row, it fell short of an A rating by just three points: its schools combined earned 59 percent of total points possible from 11 components. A 62 would have resulted in an A rating. That 59 also ranks Flagler 24th in the state, an improvement from 28th last year and 29th the year before.
To newly appointed Superintendent James Tager, “that’s how you make progress,” over time, he said.
Second, individual school grades look better than last year, when for the first time in the (somewhat controversial) grading system’s history, not a single school in the district managed an A, including Belle Terre Elementary and Indian Trails Middle School, neither of which had known anything less than an A since 2006. Belle Terre stayed at a B this year, but Indian Trails returned to its more familiar A status, and so did Old Kings Elementary, which really vaulted back to an A after earning the only C in its history in 2016. Both A schools showed strong learning gains in English and math.
Flagler Palm Coast High School also improved back up to a B after a year at C as its improvements in language arts, math and social studies scores helped push it across the B line. It has plenty of room for improvement in its graduation rate (78 percent, compared to 84 for Matanzas) and its college and career acceleration points–points that reflect the number of students who successfully take advanced placement courses, International Baccalaureate courses, participate in dual enrollment and achieve industry certifications.
Matanzas High School stayed at a B, where it’s been for three of the last four years, with an A in 2015.
Tager says it’s in those areas of acceleration that the two schools could work to improve their grades. He wants to focus particularly on improving industry certification numbers. Flagler’s are very low compared with other district. Those numbers were of so much concern for Colleen Conklin, a school board member, that she clashed with School Board Chairman Trevor Tucker to get the administration to analyze Flagler’s low performance and present the findings of a state report to the board. The administration subsequently did so. That was weeks before Tager’s arrival.
There were dimmer spots in the grades report, particularly at Wadsworth Elementary. The school fell from a B to a C, and as an internal district report indicates, the school showed year-over-year decreases in most measurable categories. No other school had that many year-over-year decreases, though Imagine School at Town Center, the charter school, and Rymfire Elementary had several declines in various categories but still managed to maintain their B from last year.
Bunnell Elementary and Buddy Taylor Middle School both maintained their C status. And Palm Harbor Academy, the district’s only other charter school, improved from an F last year, but only to a D.
The Florida Department of Education calculates school grades annually based on up to 11 components, including student achievement and learning gains on statewide, standardized assessments and high school graduation rate. School grades provide parents and the general public an easily understandable way to measure the performance of a school and understand how well each school is serving its students. Eleven of Florida’s 67 districts earned an A, 37 districts earned a B.
Flagler County School Grades, 2005-2019
|Bunnell Elementary||A||B||B||A||A||B||B||A||B (C)*||A||B||C||C||C||C|
|Belle Terre Elementary||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||B||B||B||A|
|Old Kings Elementary||A||A||A||A||A||B||A||A||B||A||A||C||A||B||B|
|Rymfire Elementary||B||A||B||C||A||A||B (c)*||A||B||B||B||C||B|
|Indian Trails Middle||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||B||A||A||A|
|Buddy Taylor Middle||B||A||A||A||A||A||A||B||C||C||B||C||C||C||C|
|Flagler-Palm Coast High||C||B||C||A||D||B||B||B||A||B||B||C||B||B||B|
(*) In 2013, the state Board of Education agreed to pad grades in such a way as to prevent them from falling by more than one letter grade. More than 20 percent of schools benefited from the padding, including Rymfire and Bunnell elementaries in Flagler, whose grades would have been a C if the actual standards were applied.