Florida Keys News
Saturday, July 27, 2013
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Early ratings not kind to Key West schools

The preliminary grades for the 2012-13 school year were released Friday morning, and they're not good for Key West's elementary schools.

County high schools have not been fully graded yet, and were not included in the report.

Due to a rule adopted by the Florida Legislature, no school is "allowed" to drop more than one letter-grade rating per school year. Even so, four Monroe County schools -- three of which are in Key West -- were rated lower than last year, and three would have been rated even lower if not for the rule.

Specifically, Horace O'Bryant (HOB), Gerald Adams, and Poinciana, all "A" rated institutions in 2011-12, have slipped to "B" status this year. They would have slipped into "C" territory if not for the one-letter-grade-drop protection.

At the now-defunct Glynn Archer Elementary, the situation was even bleaker. That school, most of whose pupils will be absorbed into the HOB student body, was demoted from a "C" rating last year to an extremely low "D" this year. On a grading system in which 800 is the highest possible score, Glynn Archer scored a 398, just 3 points shy of a technical "F," had the school not benefited from the letter-grade rule.

At the same time, two area schools showed a letter-rating improvement this year: Stanley Switlik Elementary in Marathon rose from a "B" rated school to an "A" level, as did the Big Pine Academy charter school.

"Four are down, two are up, and six stayed the same," School Board Chairman Andy Griffiths said Friday. "We need to examine what the Switlik and Big Pine Academy strategies are so that we can assist those that went down. We need to make a commitment to doing this."

District 4 Board Mmmber John Dick agreed that more needs to be done to help district schools adjust to the higher standards demanded by the state, such as the Common Core Curriculum, which will be introduced in the 2014-15 school year.

"[The scores] show that we've got work to do," Dick said. "We want to be the best district in the state of Florida, and this should not deter anybody from that goal. We need to take care of business."

Statewide, the number of "A" schools dropped from 48 to 29 percent, while the number of "F" schools increased from 2 to 4 percent.

The complete grades are available at http://www.fldoe.org.

tschmida@keysnews.com

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