CHIPLEY — Washington County schools retained their “C” grade from the Department of Education for the third consecutive year, but district wide numbers took a noticeable jump.
"I'm very proud of the schools," said Superintendent Joseph Taylor. "All of the school points went up, and the district total is up by 30 points."
The last time the district received a “B” was 2011. However, of the four schools evaluated — Vernon Middle and Elementary schools, Kate M. Smith Elementary and Roulhac Middle School in Chipley — the middle school remained unchanged from their rating as "C" schools, while KMS and VES both rose from a "B" rating to an "A."
The grades are based on each school's performance on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT), which measures the aptitude and performance of students. The year-end state grades are used to determine whether a school
received state funding, or in worst cases, closed because of a failing grade.
According to the scores provided by the district, Kate M. Smith Elementary in Chipley rose the most, from 444 in 2013, which earned the school a "B" assignment from the state, to 528, an “A” grade, in 2014.
The assessment-based measures are based 50 percent on performance and 50 percent on learning gains, but the number scale varies, with elementary schools being grading on a 800 point scale, while middle schools are graded on a 900 point scale.
Vernon Elementary School also earned an “A” with a total points earned of 561, an improvement over the 2013 “B” grade with a score of 518.
Vernon Middle School earned a “C” with a points-earned score of 556, up by 38 points from 2013’s score of 518, which was also a “C” grade.
Roulhac Middle School also received a “C” score with 547 points in 2014, up 24 points from 2013’s total of 523 points, which was also a “C” grade.
"We saw some marked improvements this year and look forward to even more next year," said Taylor.
Chipley High School and Vernon High School's scores will be out closer to December, after factors like End of Course Tests (ECOTs) and graduation rates have been considered.
School Grades are assigned by the Department of Education of the state of Florida. School grades have been issued since 1999 with the FCAT being the criterion used in calculating them. School grades utilize a point system, and schools are awarded one point for each percent of students who score high on the FCAT and or make learning gains - a year's worth of knowledge in a year's worth of time. Percent of students tested and measurement of reading and math gains in the lowest 25% of students are also used in school grades calculation.
This is the final year school grades will be calculated using the current formula, however. According to the Florida Department of Education, the new grading system next year will be "more simple and transparent" and support the more rigorous Florida Standards and the Florida Standards Assessment which will replace the FCAT.