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Press Release

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tom Butler
(850) 245-0413

Record Number of Florida Schools Earn High Grades
~ Significantly fewer low performing schools identified, compared to last year ~

Tallahassee - Florida has more schools earning “A’s” and “B’s” than ever before according to the 2008 school grades results announced today. Of the 2,889 schools graded this year, nearly three quarters (2,125) are considered to be high performing (receiving either an “A” or “B” grade). Additionally, the number of schools considered to be low performing decreased significantly compared to last year.

“Congratulations to our students, parents, teachers and principals for gaining ground in student achievement and learning,” Governor Crist said. “While we are proud of the success we have gained, we pledge to continue working to make improvements and lift up our struggling schools.”

Of Florida's 2,889 graded public schools earning "A" through "F" grades this year:

  • 1,583 earned an "A" (55 percent), an increase of 100 schools compared to last year.
  • 542 earned a "B" (19 percent), an increase of 73 schools compared to last year.
  • 565 earned a "C" (20 percent), a decrease of 22 schools compared to last year.
  • 154 earned a "D" (5 percent), a decrease of 62 schools compared to last year.
  • 45 earned an "F" (2 percent), a decrease of 38 schools compared to last year.

"The school grades this year indicate that Florida’s teachers and schools are going above and beyond to meet the needs of their students,” said Education Commissioner Eric J. Smith. “I commend them on such excellent work, and thank them for their continued efforts to provide quality learning environments that enable our children to succeed.”

School Performance Rises with Higher Expectations

Florida continues to raise its school performance expectations to ensure students are prepared for the rigor of postsecondary education and the workforce. In 2007, the expectations were raised for the fourth time since the inception of school grades. This year’s results confirm historical trends that indicate schools respond with improved performance when expectations are raised. The number of low performing schools (receiving an “F” grade) declined to 45 this year, down from 83 in 2007. Of last year’s 83 “F” graded schools, five improved to an “A,” seven improved to a “B,” 33 improved to a “C” and 20 improved to a “D.”

School Recognition Program Remains Incentive for Improvement

The Florida School Recognition Program rewards schools that have sustained high student performance or demonstrated substantial improvement in student performance. Schools that receive an “A,” or improve at least one performance grade from the previous year, are eligible to earn an additional $85 per student. The School Recognition Program has had a positive effect on schools maintaining and improving grades. In 2008, 1,203 schools maintained their “A,” 32 newly opened schools earned an “A,” 348 schools improved to an “A” and 350 schools improved to a grade other than an “A.”

For Florida's struggling schools, the Assistance Plus program provides funding, resources and support to address areas of weakness. Additionally, failing schools receive school improvement facilitators, reading coaches, technical assistance and assessments to monitor student progress.

Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)

Required as a part of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, AYP measurements target the performance and participation of various student subgroups on statewide assessments based on race or ethnicity, socioeconomic status, disability, and English proficiency. While the majority of public schools are measured for AYP, only Title I schools (schools that receive federal funding for low-income students) face increasing levels of corrective action for failing to meet AYP two or more years in a row. These actions remain the same for each school regardless of the percentage of AYP criteria met or their performance on state accountability requirements. This year, 1,104 Florida Title I schools did not make AYP.

Florida was recently selected to participate in the federal Differentiated Accountability pilot program which provides more flexibility for Title I schools in the type of corrective actions they need to implement. Through the program, Title I schools that consecutively fail to make AYP will be placed into three main improvement levels based on the school’s letter grade, percentage of AYP requirements met, and the number of years it has not made AYP. For more information regarding Florida’s participation in the Differentiated Accountability pilot program, visit http://www.fldoe.org/news/2008/2008_07_02.asp.

Parents will receive a school report card that provides a comprehensive look at their child's school, with results under state and federal standards, as well as information on spending at the school level. To view the 2008 School Grades and AYP fact sheet, visit http://schoolgrades.fldoe.org/pdf/0708/factsheet.pdf. To view school grades and AYP results, visit http://schoolgrades.fldoe.org.