Sun-Sentinel - 7/8/2008 12:00:00 AM
by Akilah Johnson
The state just gave Broward County's public schools' their report cards, and school district officials said their hard work really paid off: More As and fewer Fs.
Last year, Broward had 123 A-schools and nine Fs. This year: 141 schools earned As and six Fs.
The district's overall grade is back at an A after last year's slip to a B. Broward has 283 public schools and about half them received the coveted grade, according to district officials.
Florida grades schools based on Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores. The high-stakes test is given to third through 11th-graders and measures student achievement in reading, math, writing and science.
District and school grades represent progress. The state looks at how well students do from one year to the next and rates the improvement. About half the points a school earns are based solely on student learning gains.
Broward's results are similar to the state's, with the number of A-schools increasing and the number of F-schools decreasing.
Nearly 75 percent of Florida's 2,889 public schools received As or Bs this year, up from last year when officials added three new areas to the grading scale. Those areas: science, gains among the lowest-performing math students and 11th- and 12th- grade retake scores.
Only 45 schools statewide earned an F this year, a drop of about 54 percentage points.
"Florida's teachers and schools are going above and beyond to meet the needs of their students," state Education Commissioner Eric J. Smith.
The six Broward schools that received Fs are: Smart School Institute of Technology and Commerce Charter High, Imagine Charter School North Lauderdale, Downtown Academy of Technology & Arts, Susie Daniels Charter School; Sunland Park Elementary; and Coconut Creek High.
Three of these -- Smart School, Downtown Academy and Sunland Park -- are repeating F-schools, having failed at least twice within four years.
Smart Institute of Technology's doors will likely close as this is its third F. As a result of last year's score, it underwent a state-required overhaul this school year. The next step: Closure.
If a traditional school receives two Fs within four years, its administrators are replaced and a person is hired to monitor its progress.
Sunland Park's acting principal Mattie Benson said Monday that she was on pins and needles waiting for today's announcement. "We think it was enough," she said of the school's progress. "But the state has the final word."
The ultimate decision for 58 other schools was better, as they improved at least one letter grade. Fourteen schools jumped two grades.
Those schools that saw their scores jump from C to A include: Dillard Elementary Attucks Middle, Monarch High, Olsen Middle, Palmview Elementary, and Pompano Beach Middle, and Taravella High.
Hollywood Hills High, Lauderhill Middle and North Fork Elementary went from F to C schools.
Besides getting its annual state-report card, the Broward school district also learned today how it did under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. More schools failed to make "adequate yearly progress" -- also known as AYP --on this year's FCAT.
Last year, 131 schools didn't meet the federal benchmark. This year, 187 did not meet AYP. But only schools that failed consecutively-and accept federal money for poor students-face consequences under the federal system.