TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Grades for elementary and middle schools in Florida were released Friday, the final year school grades will be calculated using the current formula.
The number of elementary and middle schools earning a preliminary “A” grade increased by 195 (7 percentage points) over last year, according to preliminary data released by the Department of Education.
The state said that 962 elementary and middle schools statewide earned the top grade.
However, the number of schools earning a preliminary “F” grade this year also increased.
“The increase in the number of schools earning an ‘A’ this year is great news for students and teachers who have worked hard for this success,” said Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart in a news release. “I appreciate the work by the educators, students and their families in the Big Bend and know they will continue to improve in the future.”
Highlights in Palm Beach County and Treasure Coast include:
* Palm Beach County increased the number of elementary and middle schools earning a preliminary grade of “A” by 10 schools in 2013-14, with 43 percent of Palm Beach County schools now earning an “A” compared to 40 percent in 2012-13. Three Palm Beach County schools improved two or more letter grades between 2012-13 and 2013-14, including one school, Hope-Centennial Elementary School, that improved from an “F” to a “B.”
* Martin County increased the number of elementary and middle schools earning a preliminary grade of “A” by one school in 2013-14, with 41 percent of Martin County schools now earning an “A” compared to 35 percent in 2012-13. Martin County has no elementary or middle schools with a preliminary grade of “F.”
* Indian River County increased the number of elementary and middle schools earning a preliminary grade of “A” by three schools in 2013-14, with 29 percent of Indian River County schools now earning an “A” compared to 15 percent in 2012-13. Indian River County has no schools with a preliminary grade of “F.” Additionally, Indian River County has one school, Glendale Elementary School, which improved two letter grades from a “C” to an “A.”
* One Okeechobee County school, North Elementary School, improved two letter grades from a “D” to a preliminary grade of “B” between 2012-13 and 2013-14.
* St. Lucie County increased the number of elementary and middle schools earning a preliminary grade of “A” by three schools in 2013-14, with 15 percent of St. Lucie County schools now earning an “A” compared to 6 percent in 2012-13. In addition, four St. Lucie County schools improved by two letter grades between 2012-13 and 2013-14.
The new grading system next year will support Florida Standards and the Florida Standards Assessment, which will replace the FCAT.
Treasure Coast schools grades drop overall
With four F’s and a multitude of D’s — including Martin County’s first in more than 10 years — Treasure Coast schools did not fare well in the state’s annual report card.
J.D. Parker School of Technology became the first Martin County school since 2002 to get a D from the Florida Department of Education, which released elementary and middle-school grades Friday.
In St. Lucie County, five schools — Nau Charter, Dan McCarty Middle, St. Lucie West K-8, Lakewood Park Elementary and Samuel Gaines Academy K-8 — got F’s. Three additional St. Lucie schools got D’s. Three Indian River County schools — Pelican Island, Dodgertown and Highlands elementaries — got D’s as well.
Elementary and middle-school grades are based on Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores in reading, math, science and writing, which were previously released.
The news was not all bad. Some schools improved. In Indian River, Beachland Elementary in Indian River regained its A and Glendale Elementary jumped from last year’s C to an A. In St. Lucie, Lakewood Park Elementary also went from a C to an A.
Grades are based on scores from the FCAT, which students in grades 3 through 10 took in the spring. Students in grades 4 and 8 also take a writing test, while students in grades 5 and 9 are tested in science.
This was the last year for FCAT, as the state transitions to the new Florida Standards, a modified version of the more rigorous Common Core. Next year’s statewide assessment is expected to be more aligned with the new standards.
Friday’s release was the second consecutive year in which Treasure Coast grades dropped, with many schools in 2013 saved only by the state rule mandating no school drop by more than one letter grade.
High school grades will be released at the end of the calendar year because the state adds non-FCAT components such as graduation rates and SAT scores to FCAT scores to determine those grades.