Florida charter schools earn A’s, F’s at higher rates than district schools

Travis Pillow

Florida’s charter schools received a bigger proportion of both A and F grades than their district-run counterparts for the 2013-14 school year.

florida's charter schoolsIt’s a pattern that’s held for the past few years, and it’s no different in the the elementary and middle school grades released this morning by the state Department of Education.

More than 41 percent of the state’s charter schools earned preliminary A’s for the 2013-14 school year, compared to about 34 percent of district schools.

Of the 420 charter schools that were graded, 42, or 10 percent, received F’s. Less than 6 percent of the more than 2,300 district schools received the lowest possible letter grade.

Overall, the state accountability report, the last for middle and elementary schools before the state moves to a new grading formula, presents a mixed bag for Florida’s public schools. Across the board, they earned A’s and F’s in larger proportions this year than a year ago.

Juan Copa, the states deputy education commissioner in charge of accountability, said schools’ ratings rose on average, meaning compared to a year ago, “more students are performing on grade level or better – including our most struggling students.”

Next year, the grading formula will be simplified as the state prepares to replace the FCAT with new assessments tied to the Florida Standards. The grades released today are considered preliminary because the calculations can be appealed to the state. Grades for high schools will be released later this year.

For charter schools across the state, this year’s results carry some good news, and some bad.

KIPP Impact Middle School in Jacksonville,  where more than 70 percent of students qualify for free and reduced-price lunches and 99 percent are minorities, improved its grade from a C to a B. Five schools, including two charters – the bilingual BridgePrep Academy Interamerican Campus in Miami-Dade and Orlando’s Renaissance Charter School at Chickasaw Trail – climbed all the way from F’s to B’s.

On the other hand, eight charter schools face closure after receiving F’s for two consecutive years.

As expected, K12, Inc. received a grade of incomplete for its statewide program. But five Florida Virtual Academies it operates did receive grades. Three received D’s. One, in Duval, received a C and the fifth, in Osceola, received an F. None of the virtual charters had received letter grades previously.

Copa noted that 2013 legislation lowered the minimum number of tested students a school would need to receive a grade. He said that may help explain the increased number of F schools in a year when schools raised their average scores. More than two dozen charters that did not receive a letter grade last year did receive one this year.

“There are now more schools graded this year, and many of those are high-performing schools but some of those are low-performing schools,” Copa said.

Coverage elsewhere:

Gradebook

Orlando Sentinel

StateImpact

Miami Herald

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3 comments

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H. Hanson July 14, 2014 - 8:24 pm

Since the title of the article addresses charter school results in 2014 School Grade, I thought I’d mention this. Two charter schools in Hillsb. Co. made significant gains in school grade. Both schools are on the same school campus, and both are Title I schools. RCMA Wimauma Academy (elementary) went from a “D” to an “A.” RCMA Leadership Academy (middle school) went from a “C” to an “A.” I’m partial though, as I work at these schools. I’m very proud of our staff and our students. We work hard and we put a lot of effort and love into each and every student. It just so happened that everyone’s hard work and dedication showed up in School Grade this year that our school looks “successful.” Lots of schools have staff who work hard and try their best to meet their children’s needs, but don’t end up with a good school grade. The system is just a “system” for accountability, it isn’t an absolute. Hats off to all those who work at schools with dedication and love for their students! And thank you to the author of this article, for addressing charter school school grade results specifically.

Travis Pillow
Travis Pillow July 14, 2014 - 10:58 pm

Hi H- Thank you for your comment. I admit I hadn’t heard of these schools until I saw your post, but I did a little poking around and it looks like you all operate schools in agricultural areas that cater to substantial numbers of ESOL students. If that’s the case, then the academic gains you mention are even more impressive. I’d be interested in finding out more about your school.

Florida Grade ReportCharter Schools USA September 4, 2014 - 3:58 pm

[…] the 2013-14 school year, compared to about 34 percent of district schools.” (Travis Pillow, “Florida charter schools earn A’s, F’s at higher rates than district schools,” RedefinED, […]

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