CHIPLEY — Washington County schools retained their “C” grade from the Department of Education for the second year in a row.

CHIPLEY — Washington County schools retained their “C” grade from the Department of Education for the second year in a row.

The last time the district received a “B” was 2011. However, all but one of the four schools evaluated — Vernon Middle and Elementary schools, Kate M. Smith Elementary and Roulhac Middle School in Chipley —  scored a “B” level.

The Assessment-Based Performance and Learning Gains Measures were released last week, and Washington County School District received a C rating, which came as no surprise to Superintendent Joe Taylor.

“It was what we expected,” Taylor said. “The FCAT scores were already out and from there we can pretty much figure where we are going to be in the elementary and middle schools.” High school scores are more difficult to guess, Taylor added, because there are more factors which are added into the grading process. “Those results usually come out in September.”

According to the scores provided by the district, Kate M. Smith Elementary in Chipley dropped the most, with the total points scored dropping from 528 (which would be an “A” grade) in 2012 to 444 (a “C” grade) in 2013.

The grade “B” is considered to be a score of 495 to 524 points. The assement-based measures are based 50 percent on performance and 50 percent on learning gains, but a number of factors go into determining the assessments, so the grade is not a measure of just test scores.

Vernon Elementary School earned a “B” with a total points earned of 518, which was actually an improvement over the 2012 “C” grade with a score of 484.

Vernon Middle School earned a “B” with a points-earned score of 518, down only 3 points from 2012’s score of 521, which would have also been a “B” grade.

Roulhac Middle School also received a “B” score with 523 points in 2013, but the score had dropped 37 points from 2012’s total of 560 points (which would have been an “A” grade).

One reason for the scoring drop was a change in the required score on the Writing portion of the assessment, Taylor said.

“What hurt us was the state raised the cut-off score from 3.0 to 3.5 percent in Writing,” Taylor said. The raised cut-off score impacted the elementary and middle schools in the district.

At Vernon Elementary School, in 2012 57 percent of the students scored a 3.0 or higher score in Writing, but when the state cut-off was raised to 3.5 that number dropped to 38 percent in 2013.

At Kate Smith Elementary, the numbers dropped from 64 percent scoring 3.0 in 2012 to 32 percent scoring 3.5 in 2013.

At Vernon Middle School, the Writing scores were 81 percent at the 3.0 mark in 2012, but dropped to 48 percent when the bar was raised to a 3.5 score for 2013 testing.

Roulhac Middle School dropped from 71 percent at 3.0 in 2012 to 52 percent at the 3.5 level in 2013.

“The increased rigor required has changed schools dramatically,” said Taylor. “It starts now in Kindergarten where students are expected to have learned 100 sight words by the end of the school year.”

“The FCAT scores have been out, and they make up half the grade. That is why the high school grades don’t come out until later in the year, they have other calculations that contribute to the final grade.”

In 2015, Florida schools will be facing a new set of standards in the Common Core curriculum, Taylor said. The type of testing will be done in the future is yet to be determined, with some thought being given to using the ACT as the criteria.

“The problem is, they don’t make an ACT for middle school or elementary school,” Taylor said.