School grades released Friday for elementary and middle schools in Broward and Palm Beach County showed significant decline, with the number of failing schools increasing in both districts.
The Florida Department of Education said statewide the number of A-rated schools dropped from 48 percent to 29 percent. Meanwhile, the number of F schools jumped from 2 to 4 percent.
After eight years of being an A-rated district, Palm Beach County fell to a B this year.
Five elementary and middle schools received F grades this year, including three school district run schools, Hope Centennial Elementary and Gold Coast Community School in West Palm Beach and Pioneer Park Elementary in Belle Glade. Two charter schools also received F grades, Charter School of Boynton Beach and Joseph Littles-Nguzo Saba School in West Palm Beach.
Thirteen others were rated D, including Forest Park Elementary in Boynton Beach and Pine Grove Elementary in Delray Beach
There were 61 A-rated elementary and middle schools, 38 B schools and 35 C schools.
There were some success stories in Palm Beach County. Grassy Waters Elementary, west of West Palm Beach, and Washington Elementary in Riviera Beach climbed from a C to an A.
For the first time since at least 2004, the Broward school district dropped to an overall C grade this year. Last year, the district was B-rated.
Thirteen elementary and middle schools received F grades including nine district-run public schools. That's more than double from last year where only six schools received F's, three of which were district-run.
Results also show 36 D-rated schools, versus 18 last year and 63 C schools, compared to 48 in 2012.
Another 59 schools received B grades (compared to 61 last year) and 65 were A-rated, a huge drop from last year's 101 A schools.
Davie Elementary was one of the few schools to improve, earning an A grade compared to a B last year. Two other charter schools Ben Gamla charter school in Hollywood and Imagine Middle Charter school in Coral Springs also improved from B's to A's this year.
Members of the state Board of Education acknowledged last week that the grading system is flawed. As a result, they decided for the second year to limit schools to one grade drop, even if they would have fallen two, three or four grades.
Without the safety net, four D-rated schools in Palm Beach County and 15 in Broward would have been Fs. Across the state, 261 schools avoided becoming failing schools.
In Broward, a total of 60 schools benefitted from grade drop limit. That number was 550 in the state.
Palm Beach County School Superintendent Wayne Gent said his school district fared well against the state, with 41 percent of Palm Beach County’s elementary schools receiving As, compared to 27 percent statewide. For middle schools, 46 percent in Palm Beach County were A-rated compared to 28 percent in the state.
“Credit must be given to the hard work and dedication put forth by our teachers, principals, and students,” Gent said. “Although our district continues to be a state leader, we still have concerns as to the value and accuracy of the current accountability system.”
Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said the district's school grade drops mirrored declines in the state. Despite that, he said, students performed better or as well as last year on state assessments.
“We know our students are improving academically. We also know that we still have work to do,” said Runcie. “The District continues to analyze student performance data and share best practices among all of our schools for increasing achievement.”
The A-F grades are mostly based on how well students perform on standardized FCAT tests.
These grades typically affect a school's reputation and that impacts property values, home sales and the influx of businesses in the area.
High school grades are released later in the year and are expected in December.
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