By Meagan McGone
BREVARD -- The number of Florida high schools and combination high schools getting an "A" grade for 2012 rose to 231, up from 148 last year, in preliminary results released by the Florida Department of Education.
And in Brevard County, 12 of the 16 high schools received "A" grades. The other four received "B" letters.
In 2011, 13 of the county's high schools received "A" grades, with two high schools earning "B" marks and one earning a "C."
While the results are encouraging given the move to more rigorous standards, they include measures approved by the State Board of Education to ease the transition for the 2011-12 school year.
"I want to thank students, teachers, parents, and school leaders throughout the state for their commitment to academic success," said Pam Stewart, Florida commissioner of education, in a press release. "This year's results reflect both higher standards and temporary safeguards the State Board of Education approved to help smooth the transition. As we continue toward implementing Common Core State Standards and assessments, we will continue to raise the bar, as we prepare our students for success beyond high school."
According to the press release, in addition to higher achievement levels this year, the state moved to a more rigorous graduation rate formula for high schools and expanded the basis for college readiness measures. Next year, high school grades will include biology and geometry end-of-course assessments.
An increase in the number of "A" high schools and combination high schools is beneficial for school districts. High school grades determine school recognition funds, which reward schools that have sustained high student performance or have shown substantial student performance improvement.
While elementary and middle school grades are calculated using assessment components, high school grades include both assessment-based components and other components, such as graduation rates and accelerated coursework.
In addition, numerous changes were made to the grading formula, such as moving to the federal graduation rate and using more challenging measures of postsecondary readiness. The largest increase in points for assessment-based components came from overall reading gains and reading gains of the lowest performing 25 percent of students, according to the press release.
In Brevard, two specialty schools received "F" grades: Riverdale Country Day School in Palm Bay and Horace Mann Academy in Rockledge.
For more information, or to see a complete list of grades, visit schoolgrades.fldoe.org.