They’re almost eight months late. They’re less reliable than in previous years. And they’re still facing bitter criticism because of the state’s troubled standardized testing system. But the Florida Department of Education finally released school grades for 3,200 elementary, middle and high schools on Friday. Because of the numerous issues the state’s testing system is facing, the grades are based mostly on students’ works on language arts and math exams based on the new Florida Standards Assessments.
Flagler County’s schools added up to an overall B, the same grade they’ve had for the past three years, while every school in the county is either an A or B rated campus. Statewide, 56 percent of school campuses earned an A or a B, while 6 percent got an F.
“There has been much discussion across the state surrounding this year’s grading system,” the Flagler school district said in a release it issued Friday. “Superintendent [Jacob] Oliva believes the focus should be on the hard work done by students, teachers and staff across Flagler County.”
“With the implementation of the Florida Standards and the instructional shifts that are required by the FSA, for our students to have performed as well as they did is a true testament to the commitment of everybody in the organization. We are pleasedwith the school grades; however, this 2014-15 summative data confirmed areas we had already
identified as opportunities for growth.”
Five district schools earned an A: Belle Terre Elementary and Indian Trails Middle School, both of whose all-A streaks reached 10 years in a row, Old Kings and Wadsworth elementaries, which repeat their A from the previous year (Wadsworth’s A streak is now at 5 in a row), and Matanzas High School, which returns to an A after the previous year’s B. Matanzas has had an A for three of the past four years.
But three schools saw their A rating drop to a B: Bunnell Elementary, Rymfire Elementary, and Palm Harbor (a charter school). Imagine School at Town Center, the county’s other charter school, maintained a B, as did Flagler Palm Coast High School. Buddy Taylor Middle School, the only school to have a C last year (other than now-shuttered Phoenix Academy) improved to a B.
A and B schools qualify for bonus dollars. Last year, the district’s schools shared nearly $700,000 in such additional dollars, with Belle Terre Elementary getting $131,000, tops in the county. The schools’ advisory councils choose how the money is spent. Most of the time the money is doled out as bonuses to faculty and staff, or spent on hardware or improvements to the schools’ infrastructure.
The full historical chart is below.
FSA standards have generally been considered tougher than previous versions of Florida’s standardized tests going back to the dreaded FCAT, or the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. FSA standards are based on the Common Core.
Flagler County School Grades, 2001-2016
|Bunnell Elementary||C||C||A||A||A||B||B||A||A||B||B||A||B (C)*||A||B||C||C|
|Belle Terre Elementary||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||B||B|
|Old Kings Elementary||B||A||A||B||A||A||A||A||A||B||A||A||B||A||A||C||A|
|Rymfire Elementary||B||A||B||C||A||A||B (c)*||A||B||B||B|
|Indian Trails Middle||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||B||B|
|Buddy Taylor Middle||A||A||A||B||B||A||A||A||A||A||A||B||C||C||B||C||C|
|Flagler-Palm Coast High||C||B||B||D||C||B||C||A||D||B||B||B||A||B||B||C||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.