Mixed reviews on school grades

OKEECHOBEE — Okeechobee had two B schools and a D School, while all the others were C schools for the 2015-2016 school year.

The Florida Department of Education released the school grades Friday.

While Okeechobee was the best in the Heartland District, the district grade was once again a C.

There were success stories. Osceola Middle School improved from a C to a B.

South Elementary tried to leave their days of D grades behind with a strong C, and nearly made a B grade, missing out by only two points. Central and Everglades improved from D to C schools this year. North Elementary school maintained a B again this year. Yearling Middle and Okeechobee High School maintained a C as well. Seminole Elementary slipped from a C to a D grade.

The state said Okeechobee had two schools in the lowest 300 performing schools, Seminole and Everglades Elementary. As a result Everglades and Seminole will be required to provide an additional hour of reading instruction for the 2016-2017 school year.

Osceola Middle School principal Sean Downing said he was pleased with the hard work done and the improvement at his school.

“We are so very proud of the achievement of our students. The hard work of the family members at home contributed to the school grade,” he added.

Seminole Elementary will have a new principal this year in Dr. Thelma Jackson, considered an expert in instruction and curriculum.

Superintendent Ken Kenworthy said he thinks Okeechobee students as a whole continue to show improvement.

“Improvement only comes when students, staff, parents and community alike strives to do their very best. We are thankful for everyone’s involvement in moving our school forward,” he added.

Central Elementary had 39 percent of students at grade level in English language arts and 54 percent in math. Some 67 percent of their students are minority, and 89 percent are economically disadvantaged. Okeechobee High had 36 percent of students at grade level in English and 25 percent in math.

There were 41 percent at grade level in science, and 48 percent in social studies. The graduation rate was 71 percent and the college and career ready percentage was 61 percent. Some 48 percent of students at Okeechobee high school are minority, and 70 percent are economically disadvantaged.

South Elementary had 47 percent at grade level in English, 60 percent in math and 59 percent in science. Some 42 percent of students at South are minority and 78 percent are economically disadvantaged.

Yearling Middle School narrowly escaped a D grade this year. They had 39 percent at grade level in English, 47 percent in math, 30 percent in science and 48 in social studies. Some 59 percent of students were minority and 84 percent were economically disadvantaged at YMS.

North Elementary had 56 percent of students at grade level in English, 65 percent in math, and 59 percent in science while 48 percent of students were minority and 80 percent were economically disadvantaged.

Everglades Elementary had 32 percent at grade level in English, 49 percent in math, and 32 percent in science while 49 percent of students were minority and 80 percent were economically disadvantaged.

Seminole Elementary had 37 percent at grade level in English, 49 percent in Math, and 32 percent in science. The school had 64 percent minority students and 93 percent were considered economically disadvantaged.

Osceola Middle school had 40 percent at grade level in English, 57 percent in math, 41 percent in science and 55 percent in social studies. The student body was 48 percent minority and 78 percent economically disadvantaged.
Glades County Schools also were a C district this year. Moore Haven Jr. Sr. High was a C, Moore Haven Elementary a C, West Glades School dropped from a B to a C and Pemayetv Emahakv Charter “Our Way School” was a C at the elementary and a B at the middle school levels.

The state report sound Moore Haven high had 34 percent at grade level in English, 36 percent in math, 34 percent in science and 40 percent in social studies. The school had an 82 percent graduation rate and 30 percent of students were considered career or college ready. The school had 57 percent minority students and 59 percent were economically disadvantaged.

Moore Haven Elementary had 36 percent of students at grade level in English, 39 percent in math, and 27 percent in science. They had 62 percent minority and 82 percent economically disadvantaged.

West Glades School had 51 percent at grade level in English, 61 percent in math, 52 percent in science and 59 percent in social studies. The school had 53 percent minority and 71 percent economically disadvantaged.

Pemayetv Emahakv Elementary had 56 percent of students at grade level in English, 58 percent in math and 42 percent in science. They had 89 percent minority students and none of the students were economically disadvantaged. The PECS Middle School had 43 percent in English, 55 percent in math, 44 percent in science, and 75 percent in social studies. Some 93 percent of students were minority and only one percent was considered economically disadvantaged.

Glades County School Superintendent Scott Bass said the school grades were not a surprise but are not a cause for alarm because the grading system has gotten more difficult. The new formula did take into account learning gains and student growth.

“Florida has raised the bar. We are obviously not satisfied with being a C district and have already began to take actions to ensure we improve our efforts in preparing out students to take the Florida Standards Assessment,” he added.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has partnered with the district to work with administrators and teachers to get a better understanding of the new standards and to develop new strategies and techniques so students can master those standards.

“We have also added administrative staff at West Glades School and Moore Haven High School to assist teachers with instructional assistance and progress monitoring.”

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