The number of elementary and middle schools in Jacksonville and across the state earning an "A" increased in the 2013-2014 year, but so did the number of schools earning an "F."
According to the preliminary grades released Friday, 32 Duval elementary and middle schools received "A" grades for academic year that just ended, but 22 Duval County schools were given an "F." Officials point out that six of the "F" grades given by the state are of charter schools.
In 2012-2013 academic year, 11 elementary and middle schools were rated "F."
"We have great challenges in front of us, especially in our historically lower performing and high-poverty schools," said Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of Duval County schools. "I am proud and grateful for the work that was done in all of our schools. This year was marked by tremendous change from leadership to curriculum. Establishing a new way of work is not easy and likely caused some first-year implementation dips; however, these reforms will better position us for the new Florida standards. The clarity and focus for all of us will be stronger next year and into the future."
Four Duval County schools improved two or more letter grades in the last school year, including Southside Estates Elementary School which improved three letter grades from a "D" to a preliminary grade of "A."
The controversial letter grades, which impact everything from funding to whether some schools can remain open, are largely based on student test scores. Schools that receive too many F grades in a short period of time can be forced to close.
Parent groups and activists have criticized the school grading system almost as long as it has existed, saying it is part of what puts too much emphasis on teaching just to get test results in Florida classrooms instead of teaching to help students learn information that will be useful.
The state passed several changes to its school grading system during the last Legislative session that take effect next year and is implementing a new standardized test to replace the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test for reading, writing and math.
High school grades, which are based on test scores and other factors like graduation rates, were not released Friday. Those school grades typically come out the following December.
This is the last year school accountability grades will be calculated using data from student performances on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, which will be replaced by the Florida Standards Assessments.