The Flagler County school district scored a B for the seventh year in a row according to grades released today by the Florida Department of Education. The district ranked 32nd out of 67 counties, essentially placing it at the midpoint of achievement relative to other districts.
Twenty districts scored an A. Flagler was one of 33 districts scoring a B. Thirteen scored a C. None scored lower than a C, though Franklin County did not get a score.
“I know we’ve made gains from last year but at the same time not enough to propel us forward, which is good and bad,” Trevor Tucker, chairman of the Flagler school board, said.
St. Johns County was the top-rated district, with 758 total points earned from the 111 categories of scores the state tabulates into the final grade. Those include not just the net scores for traditional courses like English Language Arts, Math and Science, but a separate category for each that measures learning gains. Flagler combined for 648 points. The lowest-scoring A district, Calhoun, combined for 678 points.
Only one school in Flagler scored an A: Indian Trails Middle, maintaining its A for the second year in a row. Indian Trails has had an A every year of its 13-year existence except for one, in 2016, when it had a B. One other school scored an A: iFlagler, the virtual school, improving from a B.
None of Flagler’s brick-and-mortar schools improved, and two, Rymfire Elementary and Old Kings Elementary, dropped a grade: Rymfire to a C, Old Kings to a B. All others maintained last year’s grades. The two high schools kept their B, as did Belle Terre Elementary and Imagine School at Town Center, the district’s last surviving charter school–and the only charter school in the district that’s ever consistently performed adequately. Palm Harbor Academy, long troubled, announced it would be closing its doors come fall. It did not rate a school grade in the state’s report.
Three schools maintained their C’s: Bunnell Elementary, Wadsworth Elementary and Buddy Taylor Middle School. The school-by-school results are not as poor as two years ago, when no school scored an A and four had C’s.
Flagler Superintendent Jim Tager, who will mark his first-year anniversary on the job next week, said he’s not satisfied with the district’s position as long as it’s not an A. “No, I’m not happy with where we’re ranked there, I want to get in that A category,” he said.
“I’ve always believed the kids are tested too much in our system but the way we’re measured does matter,” Tager said, “and for economic development it’s good were a B district but that’s not where we want to be, where we want to be is an A.”
He said key scores that aren’t tabulated until later this summer or as late as December will show notable improvements that should help push the district to an A next year. Those numbers include the district’s graduation rate, which stands at a middling 81 percent now, one point below the state average, but that Tager expects to see rise by at least five points when that number is produced in a few weeks.
The better numbers also include “acceleration” grades–that is, grades tabulated from such course work as Advanced Placement and the International Baccalaureate in high school and industry certification in middle school. IB and AP grades are not all tabulated until December, so the scoresheet released today actually reflects AP and IB scores from last year, not from 2018.
A third area of improvement key to pushing Flagler’s grade to an A is in the performance of the so-called “lowest quartile,” or those students in the lowest 25 percent of achievement. Some schools are showing marked improvement in that category, others will be urged to refocus on that quartile.
Tager said the aim school by school is to “work with everybody to try to increase by a grade level and try to give them things to do realistically to get there.”
He pointed to bright spots at each school this year–significant improvements in math at Old Kings and Wadsworth, in science at Rymfire, improvements in math and in lower-quartile performance at Buddy Taylor Middle, big improvements in algebra, geometry and industry certification at Indian Trails, improvement in math learning gains at Flagler Palm Coast High School, improvements in English at Matanzas, and so on. “But we have to do better with our lowest quartile as a district to get to that A,” Tager said.
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.