Okeechobee school district sees improvement in 2018-19

OKEECHOBEE — The Florida Department of Education (FDOE) has released school and district grades for the 2018-19 school year and while most school districts around the lake were able to maintain the grade from 2017-18, one was able to jump up a grade level.

The Okeechobee County School District improved from a “C” to a “B” for the 2018-19 school year while Glades, Hendry and Palm Beach all maintained their grade. Palm Beach kept their “A” grade while Hendry and Glades both stayed steady at “C.”

“The increases in achievement in several areas is a testament to the hard work and focus of our students and teachers,” said Okeechobee Superintendent of Schools Ken Kenworthy of his district’s “B” grade. “We will continue this improvement next year by providing professional development in target areas and retaining and recruiting high quality staff. I congratulate the students and teachers and look forward to our continuous improvement.”

FDOE calculates school grades annually based on up to 11 components, including student achievement and learning gains on statewide, standardized assessments and high school graduation rate. School grades are meant to help provide parents and the general public an easily understandable way to measure the performance of a school and understand how well each school is serving its students.

Okeechobee was one of only three districts who improved their district grade from a “C” in 2017-18 to a “B” in 2018-19.

Statewide leaders congratulated students and thanked educators for their role in increasing the percentage of schools earning an “A” or “B” grade to 63 percent and decreasing the number of “F” schools to just 15.

“This is wonderful news for our public schools and shows that high expectations combined with quality instruction pays off,” Education Committee Chair Rep. Jennifer Sullivan said. “With these results, Florida parents can have confidence that their children are receiving the world-class education they deserve. To our students, congratulations on a job well done, and thank you for representing us so well.”

Pemayetv Emahakv Charter Middle School had the highest grade of all lake area schools with an “A,” followed by Osceola Middle School and North Elementary in Okeechobee. Osceola maintained its “B” grade while North increased to a “B” in 2018-19 after scoring a “C” in 2017-18.

No other lake area schools were lower than a “C.”

Moore Haven Middle-High School and Belle Glade Elementary both increased their grade to a “C” in 2018-19 from a “D” in 2017-18. Statewide 77% of schools that earned a “D” or “F” grade in 2017-18 improved by at least one letter grade in 2018-19.

The number of “D” or “F” schools has declined 70 percent since 2015, and the number of “F” schools has declined 93 percent since that year.

“Education is the means by which we free children from the shackles of ignorance,” said Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran after the new grades were released. “A community has a right to have key insights into its schools and school grades. Meeting that goal is essential for any community to truly provide future generations the opportunity to achieve the American Dream. We are pleased to share this spectacular news and to reiterate our commitment to ensuring Florida has the number one education system in the nation.”

Richard Marion is a staff writer and photographer at Lake Okeechobee News and can be reached at rmarion@newszap.com.

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