The Florida Department of Education has released district and school grades for the 2014-15 school year, and Alachua County Public Schools has received an ‘A’ grade.
The school grades are based primarily on the new Florida Standards Assessments (FSA) that students took nearly a year ago, although the formula used to calculate those grades was not approved by the Florida Board of Education in until January.
In a memo announcing the school grades, Florida’s Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said that the new grades are a ‘baseline’ for future school and district evaluations.
“The preliminary informational baseline grades should not be compared to prior years’ results,” wrote Stewart. “These grades are a new starting point, based on new assessments with new student expectations and a new school grading model.”
Local school officials are urging the public to take the release of the school and district grades with a grain of salt.
“While it’s nice to get an A grade, it doesn’t change the fact that the state’s entire school accountability system has significant credibility issues,” said Superintendent Dr. Owen Roberts. “Those are issues that the state must address if they expect parents, educators and the public to have confidence in the system.”
Later this month students across the state will begin taking the FSA for the second time. The testing period for the FSA writing exam runs from February 29 through March 11. Beginning in late March students will take state tests in language arts, math and science.
Stewart said the school and district grades based on those exams should be released over the summer. The Florida Department of Education has posted district and school grades on its website at http://schoolgrades.fldoe.org/.