The state today released district-wide and school-wide ratings based on this year’s Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test results for elementary and middle schools. For the third year in a row, the Flagler County school district scored an A.
Three schools maintained their A rating: Belle Terre Elementary, Buddy Taylor Middle and Indian Trails Middle. Wadsworth Elementary maintained its B rating. Three schools fell back: Bunnell Elementary, from A to B; Old Kings Elementyary, from A to B, and Rymfire Elementary, from B to C.
Speaking about the scores, Florida Commissioner of Education Eric Smith said a third of elementary schools dropped one letter grade or more, and 28 percent of middle schools did. He attributed the drop in scores in part to the state’s difficult economy and a 10 percent increase, in the last three years, of the proportion of students on free or reduced lunch, an indicator of increasing poverty. More difficult economic circumstances, transience triggered by foreclosures, and even a rise in student and family homelessness, have all played a role in students’ academic work. Those circumstances, Smith said, may have a hand in lesser scores overall.
In Flagler County, those circumstances apply especially at Rymfire Elementary, which has been hit particularly hard by students affected by foreclosures or children of families in transit.
Smith also pointed to a loss of $71 million in federal and state dollars over the past three years that once were earmarked for remedial reading programs. Those losses have had to be made up by local school districts–if they could afford to do so. Many haven’t been able to do so.
Ratings for Palm Coast High School and Matanzas High School won’t be released until late November or early December.
Charter schools, which aren’t required to abide by the same rigorous standards as traditional public schools but are nevertheless funded by tax dollars, also get letter grades. In Flagler County, only Imagine School got a grade, improving from a D last year to an A, with 545 cumulative points earned from nine categories.
To elaborate on Darren May’s point in the comments: To score an A, a school must have 525 points or more, test at least 95 percent of its students and show learning gains of more than 50 percent among students in the lowest-performing quarter.
Indian Trails scored a cumulative 604 points, Buddy Taylor scored 568, Belle Terre 565. Bunnell Elementary scored 521 and Wadsworth Elementary 523. Old Kings Elementary scored 529, enough for an A, but fell two points short of the 50 percent mark in the lowest-performing quarter’s learning gains in reading. Rymfire Elementary had a cumulative 489 points.