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Duval's charter schools come up short

A bronze statue of children outside of Duval County Public Schools administration building.
Claire Heddles
Jacksonville Today
A bronze statue of children sits outside of Duval County Public Schools administration building.

Almost a third of Duval’s charter schools got a D or F rating in the latest round of school grades — triple the rate of non-charter public schools.

Overall, Duval charters made up nearly half of the lowest-performing schools in the district, versus just 14% in the last round of grades, in 2019 before the pandemic.

For other district schools, a D grade two years in a row triggers a state-mandated turnaround program and potential school closure. That’s not the case for charters, which can remain D-rated without being forced to close, as long as they have an improvement plan in place.

“The only thing that triggers closure for non-academic success would be if a charter school was rated an F rating two years in a row,” Superintendent Diana Greene told School Board members last week.

None of the three charter schools that got a D rating in 2019 managed to improve by this year, but all 17 of Duval’s non-charter schools that previously had D’s bumped up to either a B or a C this year.

Wayman Academy of the Arts was one of two charter schools that fell from an A in 2019 to an F this year. The Rev. Mark Griffin, founder and chairman of the board, says a teacher shortage, mid-year principal change and challenges of virtual learning all contributed to the rating drop.

“We just ask that people don’t look at just that one grade, but look at our school and the totality of what we’ve been doing and what we hope to continue to do in the future,” Griffin told Jacksonville Today.

School grades are largely based on graduation rates and end-of-year Florida Standards Assessments testing, which is being replaced with shorter, “progress monitoring” tests.

You can find results for your school or district here.

This story appeared first in Jacksonville Today, part of WJCT Public Media.

Claire joined WJCT as a reporter in August 2021. She was previously the local host of NPR's Morning Edition at WUOT in Knoxville, Tennessee. During her time in East Tennessee, her coverage of the COVID pandemic earned a Public Media Journalists’ Association award for investigative reporting. You can reach Claire at (904) 250-0926 or on Twitter @ClaireHeddles.