St. Lucie school grades drop following numerous changes in grading formula

Fort Pierce, FL — Despite students in many cases performing better on the FCAT and other standardized tests compared to 2012, due to multiple changes in the state school grading formula, many St. Lucie Public Schools – mirroring statewide results — saw a drop of at least one letter grade in 2013 compared to last year, according to results for schools with grades kindergarten through eighth grade released today by the Florida Department of Education. High school grades are expected to be released later in the fall because of other calculations for their school grades.

School grades are primarily calculated based on student performance on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). The list below shows the letter grades assigned to St. Lucie public schools for 2013.

“We are certainly disappointed to see that the hard work and dedication of our teachers, students and other stakeholders, all of which resulted in so many cases of significant improvements, are not reflected in this year’s school grades,” remarked interim superintendent Genelle Yost, who assumed the district’s leadership upon the retirement of Michael Lannon June 30. “But we will continue to focus on each child, every day, so that all students are provided the individual support to ensure their academic success,” she added.

This is the third year changes in the state accountability system have been enacted by the Florida Department of Education following legislative mandates, some 32 changes just in the last two years. However, in 2012, the State Board of Education put in place a one-year stopgap measure to keep school grades from dropping more than one letter grade when the department realized the impact the changes would have on school grades last year. That provision was narrowly approved by the State Board of Education to be extended for this year only, while other grading formula changes remain in place.

Changes that affected this year’s school grades include new achievement levels for FCAT 2.0 Science and End-of-Course assessments in Biology 1 and Geometry, raising the writing standard used in school grades up to 3.5 from 3.0 last year, requiring that schools must show that the lowest-performing students are making progress in both reading and math, and including test performance and learning gains of students who attend alternative schools.

For K-8 and middle schools, the actual student performance is also impacted by the addition of a new measurement of acceleration rates of students, so that for several schools whose students showed improvement in test scores, their grade did not improve.

The additional changes in the grading formula, and their expected impact, drew the ire of education leaders across the state, which prompted Commissioner of Education Tony Bennett to convene a meeting July 1 with five district superintendents, Senator Bill Montford, who is also executive director of the state’s superintendent’s association, DOE staff members and the governor’s deputy chief of staff to discuss the impact of more changes to the accountability system to school grades for this year.

Statistics to note for St. Lucie schools:

• There is a significant increase in student performance this year at Lakewood Park Elementary, but this did not result in a letter grade improvement due to the safety net added last year
• C.A. Moore and Lakewood Park elementary schools realized a fairly large increase in grade level points and student performance on the FCAT, particularly on the writing section, but those improvements will not show in an improved school grade
• White City Elementary increased its accountability points this year and earned a B. Last year, they were granted a B based on the safety net; but, again due to the false floor imposed, they maintained their letter grade when their performance actually improved
• Fairlawn Elementary and F.K. Sweet Elementary maintained their positions earning a ‘A’ grade with a stable performance across the two years
• Southern Oaks Middle also maintained its position with a relatively stable performance across the two years on the original calculations included in the school grade
• Village Green Environmental Studies would have increased a letter grade based on their students’ performance this year, but also were impacted by last year’s decision to implement a false floor for school grades

School Name Preliminary Grade 2013
WHITE CITY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL B
WEATHERBEE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL D
FAIRLAWN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL A
FORT PIERCE MAGNET K-8 SCHOOL D
LAWNWOOD ELEMENTARY SCHOOL C
ST. LUCIE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL C
DAN MCCARTY SCHOOL F
FRANCES K. SWEET ELEMENTARY SCHOOL A
SAVANNA RIDGE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL C
CHESTER A. MOORE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL C
LINCOLN PARK ACADEMY Pending
ST. LUCIE WEST K-8 SCHOOL B
SAMUEL S. GAINES ACADEMY K-8 F
ALLAPATTAH FLATS K-8 C
FORT PIERCE CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL Pending
FORT PIERCE WESTWOOD HIGH SCHOOL Pending
MORNINGSIDE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL C
LAKEWOOD PARK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL D
FLORESTA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL C
BAYSHORE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL C
NORTHPORT K-8 SCHOOL D
WINDMILL POINT ELEMENTARY SCHOOL D
VILLAGE GREEN ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES B
PORT ST. LUCIE HIGH SCHOOL Pending
PARKWAY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL B
SOUTHPORT MIDDLE SCHOOL C
MARIPOSA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL C
OAK HAMMOCK K-8 SCHOOL C
MANATEE ACADEMY K-8 C
FOREST GROVE MIDDLE SCHOOL D
RIVERS EDGE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL C
SOUTHERN OAKS MIDDLE SCHOOL B
ST. LUCIE WEST CENTENNIAL HIGH Pending
TREASURE COAST HIGH SCHOOL Pending
WEST GATE K-8 SCHOOL B
NAU CHARTER SCHOOL D
RENAISSANCE CHARTER SCHOOL C
COLLEGE PREPARATORY ACADEMY Pending
MOSAIC DIGITAL LEARNING ACADEMY Pending
PALM POINTE EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH A

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State Board Approves Emergency Rule

State Board of Education members voted in support of Commissioner Tony Bennett’s emergency rule to provide a “safety net” that schools’ grades would not drop more than one letter grade for FY13, continuing the same provision for FY12.  It also changes the premise by which districts may have originally decided that ESE center students’ grades would be counted against the regular school to which the student would be assigned or against the center school.  (St. Lucie County’s only ESE Center to be impacted is Positive Expectations Academy).

Several State Board members acknowledged the fact that the current grading system has been frequently changed to the point it has become over complicated and the “A-F” model may not be as relevant now as when it was first passed in 1999.  Commissioner Bennett has committed to the development of a comprehensive 3-year plan to support the transition and implementation of Common Core with a new accountability system.

A copy of the new rule is below.

School accountability grades will be released by the end of the month.

6AER13-01, School Grade Mitigation.  Notwithstanding any other rule to the contrary, if a school grade preliminarily calculated under Rule 6A-1.09981, FAC., is more than one (1) letter grade below the school’s grade for the prior year, the points assigned based upon the provisions of Rule 6A-1.09981(5)(a)1., 2., and 3., FAC., shall be adjusted such that a school’s letter grade is reduced by no more than one (1) letter grade. The points earned shall be evenly allocated across the components in subparagraphs (5)(a)1., 2., and 3., of Rule 6A-1.09981, FAC., in order to ensure that a school’s grade is based upon the components of student achievement, learning gains and the improvement of the lowest 25th percentile.

Rulemaking Authority 1001.02, 1008.22, 1008.34, 1008.345 FS.

Law Implemented 1008.22, 1008.34, 1008.345 FS. History – New

2013 Annual Report to the Community posted on district web site

The St. Lucie Public Schools’ 2013 Annual Report to the Community is posted on the school district web site at http://www.stlucie.k12.fl.us/pdf/AnnualReport2013.pdf. Please enjoy the growth in student performance in academics, performing arts, educational opportunities and athletics. Due to limited resources, only several hundred printed reports will be published and distributed to agencies serving children and families throughout the community.