PALM BEACH COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS REGAIN A RATING FROM STATE
Palm Beach County’s public school system reclaimed its A grade from the state this year, as rising test scores buoyed it to the top mark and maintained the county’s title as Florida’s highest-rated large school district.
State grades released Wednesday show that schools across the state benefited from improving student performance on state exams and higher graduation rates. But only two of Florida’s seven largest school districts – Palm Beach and Miami-Dade – earned A ratings.
It’s Palm Beach County’s first A grade since 2012 under the state’s regular school-grade criteria, a distinction that school district leaders attributed to sustained efforts to improve learning in the county’s more than 200 district and charter schools.
“I am so proud of the hard work of our teachers and staff,” Deputy Superintendent Keith Oswald said. “This work is about continuous focus and continuous improvement. There is no magic bullet to make these gains over time.”
The county also earned an A rating in 2015 but only after the state temporarily lowered its grading rules to offset the negative effects of switching to a new series of tests and academic standards. When the regular standards were reinstituted the following year, the county’s grade fell to a B.
Statewide, 20 of Florida’s 67 county school districts earned A’s. No county earned lower than a C.
Florida’s state government grades school districts based on students’ performance on the state’s English, math, science and social studies exams, along with high school graduation rates and the percentage of students in advanced classes.
The high mark came as the number of campuses earning A’s ballooned.
This year, 42 percent of the county’s district and charter schools received A grades, up from 36 percent last year, state records show.
“I think it’s a point of pride for the entire community that we live and work in an A-rated school district,” Oswald said. “It’s symbolic of all the hard work and how much our community has invested in education.”
All of the county’s high schools improved or maintained their grade from last year. Four earned their first A grades since 2015: Inlet Grove High, South Tech Academy, Palm Beach Central High and G-Star School of the Arts.
Only one middle school saw its grade fall: the Sports Leadership and Management Middle School (SLAM), a charter school west of West Palm Beach. Its grade dropped to a C this year from a B last year.
One elementary school fell from a C to an F: Glade View Elementary in Belle Glade, making it the county’s only F-rated school.
Three elementary schools — Rolling Green Elementary in Boynton Beach; Belle Glade Elementary; and Somerset Academy Lakes, a West Palm Beach charter school — fell to a D this year from a C last year.
The improved countywide grades came as the county’s students passed the state’s math and language-arts exams at higher rates this year, including the two exams required to graduate from high school.
The county’s improvements on the Florida Standards Assessments outpaced growth across the state overall, an encouraging sign for the county’s schools after two years of tepid progress on the state’s standardized exams.