State issues school grades; Superintendent Avossa, District leaders remain concerned with FSA

WEST PALM BEACH – The Florida Department of Education released school grades for the 2014-15 school year on Friday, but Palm Beach County Schools Superintendent Robert Avossa, Ed.D., said parents and the community should use caution in reviewing those results.

“I am a proponent of accountability, but urge caution in viewing these grades as anything but a baseline for our students, teachers and staff to build upon for next year,” Dr. Avossa said. “Given the problems that many of our schools faced with the Florida Standards Assessment last year, we should not rush to judgment. We should celebrate our high-performing schools and students, and continue to work with those who need extra help.”

School grades are based in part on the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA), given for the first time in 2015 to students in third through tenth grade. The FSA’s rollout was troubled, including problems with the administration of computer-based tests and questions about the alignment of Florida’s standards with what appeared on the tests.

The grades also do not reflect students’ learning gains in reading or mathematics.  Learning gains are the amount of growth a student has made from one year to the next in a particular subject. For the first time since 2002, the state is not incorporating learning gains in the calculation.

Overall, 72 of District-operated schools were A-rated and 18 received B’s from the state. The School District of Palm Beach County also received an A grade from the state, and was the highest performing district of all the large school districts in Florida. A full list of District-operated and charter schools and their assigned grades is available online.

Among the schools that showed improvement: Citrus Cove Elementary School, which moved from a B in 2013-14 to an A in 2014-15; Indian Pines Elementary School, which moved from a D to a C; Palm Springs Elementary School, which moved from a D to a C; Pioneer Park Elementary, which moved from an F to a D; Wellington Elementary, which moved from a B to an A; Bear Lakes Middle, which moved from a D to a C; John F. Kennedy Middle School, which moved from an F to a C; and Woodlands Middle School, which moved from a B to an A.