2013 elementary, middle School Grades released

7/26/2013

The Florida Department of Education released School Grades for elementary and middle schools were released today and have been updated on School Facts Jax. Overall, School Grades in Duval County - and state-wide - dropped, with fewer A schools and more F schools (see table below). Only one school rose by more than one letter grade - that was Mayport Elementary, which went from a D to an A.

The School Grades release has been shadowed by the recent conflict between the state and school districts over how School Grades are calculated.

This year, the State Board of Education made some changes, including raising the proficiency score for the writing portion of the FCAT 2.0 from 3.0 to 3.5. But superintendents - including Duval Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti - spoke out against the change, because it would cause grade drops at a significant number of schools.

Earlier this month, the State Board of Education decided to raise the proficiency cut score, but enacted an emergency provision that would keep any school from dropping more than one letter grade. According to the results released today, in Duval County 36 schools were protected by this rule, and about 550 state-wide.

This can be confusing for parents, because although students in Duval County overall performed slightly better this year, the district - like all others state-wide - saw significant grade drops among its schools.

Overall Number of School Grades in Duval County

Grade

Preliminary Grade 2013

Grade 2012

A

32 schools

54 schools

B

32 schools

27 schools

C

38 schools

34 schools

D

26 schools

22 schools

F

11 schools

2 schools

 

"I have always believed in accountability and high standards for our employees and students but it is counterintuitive to believe that grade level performance, the purest determinate of student achievement, can improve across multiple grades and subject areas, yet school grades decline. Unfortunately, the decline can be contributed more to constant changes to the school grading formula than to evidence that our children are learning less," Superintendent Vitti said in a press release from the district today. The district pointed out that overall, there have been 31 separate modifications to the statewide accountability system since 2011-12.

On a call with reporters, Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett acknowledged that there is confusion about School Grades. (Check out the state's frequently asked questions and answers here.)

"Our assessments didn't change, our expectations did,' he said.

The issue will continue this year and next, as Common Core standards are implemented, and, along with it, a new test to measure them that will begin in the 2014-15 school year.

Next year, Bennett said, "we will also be raising expectations, but we will also be changing standards and changing the way we measure those standards."

Now is the time for the Florida Department of Education to start engaging stakeholders around the state to determine how School Grades will work when Common Core is implemented.

-- Deirdre Conner

 

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