Duval School District Grade Improves From 'C' To 'B'

Feb 12, 2016

 

Duval County's Thomas Jefferson Elementary improved from a "C" to an "A."
Credit Thomas Jefferson Elementary

Florida released school grades from the 2014-15 school year today. Duval’s district-wide score improved from a C to a B, with 41 A’s, 28 B’s, 41 C’s. 38 D’s and 21 F’s.

It’s the first year grades are based on the new Florida Standards Assessment. But while grades usually take into account student proficiency and growth or “learning gains,” this year growth can’t be measured because of the new test. It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison with the prior year.

 

Superintendent Nikolai Vitti says he’s excited about the district’s gains, with about half of schools’ either improving or maintaining A grades.

“Now we can clearly say that this is a baseline and that we are going to improve from here, and I have complete confidence that we will continue to see  improvement going into next year and in future years,” he says.

But Duval still has 21 F’s. When a school makes three D’s or 2 F’s in a row, the state requires it to make a drastic change. About 20 schools are in the some stage in that turnaround process.

“When you look at the principal changes that have been made, the additional support that the district has provided through reading interventionists, for example, to work with students in smaller groups or additional dollars for after-school tutoring, we are completely on top of this,” he says. “So there’s nothing as far as the school grades are concerned that shocks us.“

Many of those schools are being recommended for boundary and program changes.

And Vitti says charter schools are bringing the district down.

“The reality is that 40 percent of charter schools are ‘D’ or ‘F’ schools, and anytime you talk about published district grades and you see that high number, no one really knows that, that high number is linked to charter schools as well,” he says. “But moving forward, if these schools do not improve, I think you’ll see the district move forward with closing them.”

Eleven of the district's charters received a D or F. Forty-eight non-charters received those grades.

Charters are public schools, but the district doesn’t select the principal, curriculum or teachers. Some are run by for-profit companies, and others by non-profits.