By Dawn Krebs
ST. LUCIE COUNTY - Knowing the results of the new Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, the Florida Department of Education released its grades of individual schools in the districts that serve students through eighth grade.
According to a press release from the St. Lucie County School District, five schools maintained their "A" status in St. Lucie County: Fairlawn, Frances K. Sweet and Parkway Elementary schools, along with Westgate and St. Lucie West K-8 schools.
In addition, Palm Pointe Educational Research School kept its "A." Palm Pointe is not included in the district's information, but is a K-8 laboratory school resulting from a partnership between Florida Atlantic University and the school district.
In addition to the "A" schools, 16 schools received "B" grades, seven got "Cs," and three received "Ds." Last year, 21 schools received an "A" grade, while five received "B" grades and six earned "C' grades. But the two sets of grades can't be compared, because the test that helps to determine the grades changed in both complexity and scoring.
"Even (Florida Education) Commissioner Gerard Robinson said schools are not better or worse today than yesterday, but the device used to judge schools is now a different device and one cannot compare results from two different devices," said Michael Lannon, superintendent of the St. Lucie County school district.
Across the state, 89 percent of schools earned "A," "B," or "C" grades, with the remaining 11 percent earning "D" or "F" grades.
Usually the grades come sooner in the summer, but there was delay as the state determined its grading procedure would be adjusted to prevent any schools in the state from dropping more than one letter grade from the previous year's grade. Overall, 22 schools in the district saw its grade drop one letter grade.
"The concern most people should have is how reliable is the device and all the manipulations that have been done by the state just to make the device not look bad, such as making a rule that forbids a school from 'officially' dropping more to one letter grade," Mr. Lannon said. "That's not metrics, it's politics and it's hurtful to kids, teachers and communities. Most of all, it's dishonest."
This year's FCAT test was designed to be more difficult than in years past. In addition, the scoring rubric was at a higher standard. The combination that resulted set a new baseline to measure student growth, one that couldn't be compared to previous years.
"Florida has raised expectations for school grades five times in the past 10 years," state education officials said in a press release. "The results show that after an initial drop, school grades improved consistently in the years that followed."
Mr. Lannon called this first year of school grades following the revised FCAT a "benchmark" year.
"Just as was done with the very first FCAT, we start improvement based upon the new measuring device," he said.
These grades also do not reflect the high schools in the district, as those grades will be released at a later date.
The grades were determined using four performance-based measures, including the FCAT scores in reading, math, writing and science, which counted for 50 percent of the grade.
The other 50 percent of the grade was determined by measuring the learning gains of all students and the learning gains for students in the lowest performing 25 percent of the school's student population.
This year, the performances of students with disabilities and English-language learners were also included in the FCAT testing and school grades.
"We will be going deep into the data, but Moms and Dads know if their children can read, perform mathematic applications and are making progress," Mr. Lannon said. "The culture of testing interferes with learning. But parents know if teachers love, care for and help their children mature. They've never needed any test to tell them that."
State ranks schools
Here are this year's school rankings of elementary, middle and K-8 schools in the St. Lucie County School District. The ranks are based on how well students performed on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test or FCAT.
White City B
Fort Pierce Magnet K-8 C
St. Lucie B
Dan McCarty D
Frances K. Sweet A
Chester A. Moore C
Samuel S. Gaines D
Lakewood Park D
Forest Grove Middle C
Port St. Lucie
Savanna Ridge B
St. Lucie West K-8 A
Allapattah Flats K-8 B
Northport K-8 C
Windmill Point C
Village Green B
Southport Middle B
Oak Hammock K-8 B
Manatee Academy K-8 B
Rivers Edge B
Southern Oaks Middle B
West Gate K-8 A
NAU Charter C
Renaissance Charter B
Palm Pointe A
- Compiled by the St. Lucie County School District