More 'A's' for Florida High Schools This Year

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Tallahassee, FL - December 21, 2012 - The state handed down its preliminary grades for Florida's public high schools Friday.

According to the report, Florida saw an overall increase in the number of its public high schools earning an 'A' grade under the state's 2011-2012 assessment, despite more rigorous standards.

"We have known that those more rigorous changes would take place this year but there are other components that school districts might typically have scored lower in that were held in abeyance," says Florida's Education Commissioner Pam Stewart.

Schools are graded on their reading, math and science scores in addition to graduation rates, accelerated course work and college readiness.

But this year, the state made several changes, including compiling graduation rates just from students who receive a standard diploma and not GEDs and counting both participation and performance in AP courses equally.

"We're proud of what we accomplished, but we need to go back to work. There are still areas we can improve on," says Jackie Pons, superintendet of Leon County Schools.

Of Leon County's six public high schools: Chiles, Leon, Lincoln and Sail received an 'A'. Godby was given a 'B' and Rickards received a 'C'. School Districts have until February to appeal any grades. Leon County Schools say it does not expect to do so at this time.

Two hundred and thirty one high schools state-wide received a grade of 'A' this year. That's up from 148 last year.

Florida Department of Education Release: More Florida High Schools Get Top Grades

Tallahassee, Fla., December 21, 2012 – 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 today by the Florida Department of Education. 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 Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart. “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.”

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, focusing on all on-time graduates. 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 good news for districts. High school grades determine school recognition funds, which reward schools that have sustained high student performance or have shown substantial student performance improvement. The Legislature approved $134,582,877 for that purpose for 2012-2013.

Orange County School District Superintendent Dr. Barbara Jenkins said, “The school board and I are extremely proud of our teachers, students, and school leaders who work hard to meet or exceed goals. These results reflect their effort as well as the effort of our central office. Clearly there will be further discussion regarding how ESE centers should be graded. We also realize that our high school grades next year may look different as we incorporate end-of-course assessments for biology and geometry. We are diligently preparing for Common Core and fully implementing the standards that help ensure our students are ready to compete in a global economy.”

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.

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