Published On: Wed, Feb 17th, 2016

Palm Beach Public Schools Earn an “A” From State

By CRA News Service

Palm Beach Public Schools once again received an “A” grade from the Florida Department of Education in an accountability report released recently.

And all the schools in Boca received an A except Coral Sunset Elementary and Hammock Pointe Elementary School, which earned a B.

In Delray Beach, Atlantic High School, Banyan Creek Elementary and Morakimi Park Elementary earned an A and S.D. Spady received a B. Carver Middle, Pine Grove Elementary and Plumosa School of the Arts received a C.

The scores are the first round of school grades based on a new formula calculated by the department this year. The scores are also the first round of letter grades the department has given since Florida transitioned to the Florida Standards Assessment, the Common Core-aligned test which replaced the FCAT last year. 

School Superintendent Dr. Robert Avossa said the results are difficult to gauge.

“It’s hard to give an accurate school grade without taking into account student progress,” Avossa said. “The goal of the School District is to have every student be on grade level or above and learning gains are critical in capturing this achievement.”

Last year some students across the state experienced challenges during the computer testing of the Florida Standards Assessment.

The DOE released the grades seven months later than usual after the state Legislature required a review of the newly implemented Florida Standards Assessment. About 65 percent of the FSA questions came from a Utah test without any vetting from Florida school administrators and teachers. An alarming number of technical issues with the computerized test arose, too.

For the first time since 2002, the state is not incorporating learning gains in the calculation.  Learning gains are the amount of growth a student has made from one year to the next in a particular subject.

The new formula to calculate school grades was changed substantially from 2014, focusing on student achievement components (English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies), learning gains (beginning in 2015-16), graduation rates, acceleration success (in both middle school and high school), and maintaining a focus on students who need the most support. 

“As a district we strongly support an accountability system that accurately measures student performance,” Avossa said. “Please know that our School Board and I are fully committed to ensuring that every student in Palm Beach County receives a world class education.”

Throughout the state, the preliminary grades given out for 3,219 schools show that 1,169 schools received A grades and 642 were given a B. A total of 184 schools earned an F grade while 365 schools were given a D. Some 859 schools got a C grade.

Broward and Miami-Dade counties both earned a “B.”

School grades were delayed because the state had to come up with passing scores for the new test. School superintendents wanted to pause school grades for this year based on the troubled rollout of the new test last spring.

“We must celebrate the hard work of our students, teachers and principals and acknowledge that these grades in some cases do not adequately reflect the work done in all our schools,” Avossa said.

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