Six Florida charter schools could face closure under state letter grades released today.
State law requires charter schools to shut down if they receive consecutive F’s. It creates several safe harbors for charters that target disadvantaged students. They can apply for an extra year to raise their grades if they predominantly serve children assigned to low-performing district schools, or out-perform nearby alternatives.
The six “double F” charter schools are:
- Orange Park Performing Arts Academy (Clay County)
- Galloway Academy (Gadsden)
- King’s Kids Academy of Health Sciences (Hillsborough)
- Oasis Preparatory Academy (Orange)
- Belle Glade Excel Charter School (Palm Beach)
- Learning Path Academy (Palm Beach)
Meanwhile, some charters were among the state’s best performers.
The Sharing and Caring Learning School in Gainesville rose to an A. It serves low-income children of color almost exclusively, state records show.
The rural McIntosh Area School also rose to an A. It remains among the best high-poverty charters in the state.
Another top rural charter, Franklin County’s ABC School, regained its A rating after slipping to C last year.
RCMA Wimauma Academy, a Hillsborough charter school that caters to children of migrant workers, raised its grade to a B and received high marks for math achievement.
This year’s school grades may be watched even more closely than usual. Gov. Rick Scott signed sweeping education legislation that raises the stakes. Public schools that languish for three or more years with D or F grades will have to either close, convert to charters or become district-managed charters with independent oversight boards.
Dozens of schools will escape those consequences, however, thanks to widespread improvement across the state.
There were more A’s and B’s, and fewer F’s.
Of the schools that earned D’s and F’s consecutively from 2014-2016, 110 rose to a C’s or better this year, while 70 remained below a C.
Some of the most dramatic improvements happened in Florida’s largest school district. Superintendent Alberto Carvalho held a press conference celebrating the fact that for the first time, all of Miami-Dade County Public Schools had shaken their F grades.
“Nothing beats being able to say that failure has been eliminated in Miami-Dade,” he said.
But later, he acknowledged the district had only eliminated F grades in schools it runs itself. A pair of charters it authorizes dropped from D’s to F’s.
Meanwhile, schools continued to stagnate in Florida’s smallest district. Both Jefferson County Elementary School and Jefferson Middle/High remained D’s in their final year before converting to charters in an unprecedented turnaround effort.
Charters face serious consequences if they slip to an F. They risk closure if they don’t improve. In addition, they can lose access to state facilities funding.
A new rule scheduled to take effect in the fall would also deny facilities funding charters that earn consecutive grades below a C. The rule would affect 15 schools based on this year’s grades.
It would no longer affect the Miami Community Charter Middle School. The school is challenging the higher standard but improved to a C.