breaking news

Dolphins respond to Donald Trump with protest during national anthem

Palm Beach County cuts number of F schools, but loses A rating


Palm Beach County’s public school system continues to fare better on the state’s report card than any other of the state’s large, urban school districts. But high marks over its big-district peers for graduation rates, and top scores in math, science and social studies weren’t enough to retain the district’s A rating.

When Florida’s Department of Education released its school and district grades Friday, not one district rose to an A rating and only three of 20 districts held on to one. Palm Beach and Hillsborough counties, among the state’s seven largest, fell to a B; Broward and Miami-Dade also are B-rated.

The number of schools earning an F across the state dropped by half. Palm Beach County saw an even bigger drop, cutting the number of F schools from 18 to 6. All but two are charter schools, operated with public money but private control.

As it did statewide, the number of A schools in Palm Beach County also fell, perhaps most notably at high schools including Atlantic, William T. Dwyer and Olympic Heights.

Much change was expected in this round of grading, the first opportunity the state has had to compare one year’s test scores to the previous year’s since the Florida Standards Assessments replaced the FCAT in spring 2015. In that time, not only have the tests changed but also the formula the state uses to calculate school grades.

“Our students, teachers, principals, parents and staff are the foundation of our success as a district,” Superintendent Robert Avossa said in a written statement. “I’m particularly impressed by the hard work put in by the students and teachers at our schools, which resulted in substantial improvement this year — we are all celebrating your accomplishments today.”

Those accomplishments included:

  • Eight district-operated schools improved their ratings by at least two letter grades.
  • 58 schools earned As and 37 earned Bs.
  • The number of Palm Beach County elementaries on the state’s lowest performing list fell from 23 to 17.

The district did have some schools on the state’s intervention list for a record of poor performance, including Pioneer Park Elementary and Lakeshore Middle in the Glades and Northmore Elementary in West Palm Beach, but all three moved their grade up to a C.

“Glades-area schools in particular had a strong showing, with seven of 11 traditional schools improving their grade,” the district touted in its statement. That included Rosenwald Elementary in South Bay, which raised its grade from D to B.

“We’re really proud of the transformation of some of our most challenged schools,” Deputy Superintendent David Christiansen said.

“On the other side, we were disappointed in Grove Park and Washington elementaries dropping to F grades,” Christiansen said. Grove Park in Palm Beach Gardens and Washington in Riviera Beach were both D-rated schools last year, but had earned B and A grades in the past.

The key to pulling up scores and keeping them from falling back is to be consistent with the money and support flowing to the district’s poorest and most “complex” schools, he said. The district’s recent reorganization and redirection of millions to those poor schools aims to do that, he said.

“Our approach is really different than what we have done in the past. I call (what used to happen) the yo-yo effect. Put all your resources into the failing schools, the grades go up and then you pull out and the scores go back down. It does not work,” Christiansen said.

The grades also cast a spotlight on known problems in the district’s schools, including the need to drive more middle school students to earn industry certification or enroll in high school level classes – the district got the lowest scores of any urban district on this marker. Christiansen said changes were made this year, but not in time to make this round of grades.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

LOOK: Rescuers help stranded dolphin in Florida Keys
LOOK: Rescuers help stranded dolphin in Florida Keys

A female dolphin stranded near the shores of Sugarloaf Key was helped by a group of rescuers on Saturday. A homeowner making repairs to his window broken after Hurricane Irma spotted the dolphin near his home around 11 a.m. He called the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, and soon a group of people were helping to return the slightly burned female...
Melania Trump meets Prince Harry on first solo trip abroad as first lady
Melania Trump meets Prince Harry on first solo trip abroad as first lady

Melania Trump has completed her first solo duty as first lady outside of the United States, participating in a meeting with Prince Harry ahead of the Invictus Games - the multi-sport international event Harry created for wounded, injured or sick armed services members, and leading the U.S. delegation for the Games. On Saturday, the first...
NEW: Five displaced after Lake Worth apartment catches on fire
NEW: Five displaced after Lake Worth apartment catches on fire

The Red Cross is helping to find shelter for five people who were displaced after their Lake Worth apartment caught on fire. Palm Beach Fire Rescue responded to the fire around 6 a.m. today in the 700 block of North A Street. Crews located a fire in a front bedroom and extinguished it before it could damage surrounding apartments. No one was reported...
POST TIME: The Norleys, Part III: Two deaths and a return to school
POST TIME: The Norleys, Part III: Two deaths and a return to school

(Originally published March 17, 2016) Readers: This is the last of a three-parter on the Norleys; it’s a family story of tragedy and triumph. Dolores and Theodore “Skeeter” Norley already had dealt with their first son, Greg, being born with developmental challenges, and another son, David, vanishing at sea at age 16. The fates weren&rsquo...
POST TIME: The Norleys, Part II: A brave stand and a tragic vanishing
POST TIME: The Norleys, Part II: A brave stand and a tragic vanishing

(Originally published March 10, 2016) Readers: Last week we began telling the life story of Dolores Norley. Husband Theodore “Skeeter” Norley — many of his patients just called him “Doctor T” — had been just the second orthopedic surgeon in Palm Beach County. But he clashed with the establishment. He refused to treat...
More Stories