Florida makes monumental improvement in school grades

~ Over 2,000 schools earn “A” and “B” grades ~

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) issued 2018-19 school and district grades, marking the 20th anniversary of school grades. Statewide leaders congratulated students and thanked educators for their role in increasing the percentage of schools earning an “A” or “B” grade to 63 percent and decreasing the number of “F” schools to just 15.

Key highlights include:

  • The number of “A” schools in Florida continues to rise with 1,172 schools earning an “A” in 2018-19 compared to 1,043 in 2017-18. The percentage of schools earning an “A” increased to 36 percent, up from 31 percent in 2017-18.
  • Over half (51 percent) of Florida’s charter schools earned an “A” in 2018-19, compared to 32 percent of traditional public schools.
  • Seventy-four percent of charter schools earned an “A” or “B” this year, compared to 61 percent of traditional public schools.

Governor Ron DeSantis said, “It is a great day for education in Florida and today’s announcement shows we are on a successful trajectory. We are resolute in our continued efforts to ensure that Florida students have the chance to receive a world-class education regardless of their circumstance. The ultimate gift we can give future generations is the ability to achieve their life’s ambitions. I appreciate our state’s hard-working educators who made it possible and applaud our students on a job well done.”

Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran said, “Education is the means by which we free children from the shackles of ignorance. A community has a right to have key insights into its schools and school grades. Meeting that goal is essential for any community to truly provide future generations the opportunity to achieve the American Dream. We are pleased to share this spectacular news and to reiterate our commitment to ensuring Florida has the #1 education system in the nation.”

The Florida Department of Education calculates school grades annually based on up to 11 components, including student achievement and learning gains on statewide, standardized assessments and high school graduation rate. School grades provide parents and the general public an easily understandable way to measure the performance of a school and understand how well each school is serving its students.

School grades are a vital component of Florida’s accountability system. They not only enable parents to make informed decisions, they provide the State Board of Education with data that drives reforms at perpetually low-performing schools. Florida statute prescribes the steps districts must take when one or more schools earn a “D” or “F.” These policies focus on research-validated improvement and have gotten increasingly stringent in recent years. Commissioner Corcoran and the State Board of Education members take seriously their responsibility to Florida’s students and have demanded swift, positive action in failing schools on behalf of the students whose futures depend on it.

Low-Performing Schools

Thanks in large part to FDOE’s rigorous monitoring of low-performing schools and the State Board of Education’s commitment to holding school boards and school districts accountable, there has been a substantial improvement in the performance of schools that have been under state-mandated monitoring.

  • Eighty-one percent of schools graded “F” in 2017-18 improved their grade in 2018-19 by one or more letter grade (21 of 26 schools).
  • Seventy-seven percent of schools that earned a “D” or “F” grade in 2017-18 improved by at least one letter grade in 2018-19 (165 schools).
  • Sixty-three percent of schools in the second or third year of implementing their turnaround plan improved their letter grade (22 schools).
  • The number of “D” or “F” schools has declined 70 percent since 2015, and the number of “F” schools has declined 93 percent since 2015.

In addition to school grades, the department also calculates district grades annually based on the same criteria.

  • Twenty-four districts are now graded “A” in Florida, and for the second year in a row, there are no districts graded “D” or “F.”
  • Fifty-four of Florida’s 67 school districts are graded “A” or “B.”
  • Five districts improved their district grade from a “B” in 2017-18 to an “A” in 2018-19.
  • Three districts improved their district grade from a “C” in 2017-18 to a “B” in 2018-19.

State leaders applauded the improvement in school grades:

State Board of Education Chair Marva Johnson said, “For one student to spend even a single day in a failing school is unacceptable. That is why, as a Board, we rely on the concrete evidence that our accountability system provides to make student-centered policy decisions. I express my sincere appreciation for the teachers and parents whose unconditional support enables our students to thrive.”

Committee on Education Chair Sen. Manny Diaz said, “School grades are an important measure of quality, and today’s announcement demonstrates for the public that education in Florida is on a positive trajectory. Florida’s accountability system is the most transparent in the nation, and I am tremendously proud of the improvements that have been made as a result of it. I am honored to celebrate our state’s hard-working teachers and students for these outcomes.”

Education Committee Chair Rep. Jennifer Sullivan said, “This is wonderful news for our public schools and shows that high expectations combined with quality instruction pays off. With these results, Florida parents can have confidence that their children are receiving the world-class education they deserve. To our students, congratulations on a job well done, and thank you for representing us so well.”

For more information about school grades, visit School Grades. The department continues to accept feedback on Florida’s education reports portal, EduData (http://edudata.fldoe.org), where these data will be featured in August.

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