Test scores for the Florida Standard Assessments recently released showed Gulf District Schools scoring solidly, if not spectacularly.



Test scores for the Florida Standard Assessments recently released showed Gulf District Schools scoring solidly, if not spectacularly.

There were positives, double-digit gains in eight grade or course categories, gains in 11 of 13 grade and course categories at Wewahitchka Jr./Sr. High School, math scores at Wewahitchka Elementary, fourth-grade performance at Port St. Joe Elementary.

The test scores, released last month by the Florida Department of Education, also highlighted challenges, in science and biology in Port St. Joe, third grade scores below state average and seventh-grade Civics.

The school grades released last week by the FDOE mirror those test scores, spotlighting positives, a school’s rise in grade, and the not-as-positive, the elementary schools, where one dropped a grade and the other maintained the district’s only ‘C’ grade.

“Overall, they are not bad,” said Superintendent of Schools Jim Norton. “We are happy. We are a ‘B’ district and I’ll take that.

“The grades are always a mixed bag. There are positives and there are areas we already know we have to work on. We have already formulated plans for addressing areas of concern.”

School grades are calculated annually based on up to 11 components, including student achievement and learning gains on statewide, standardized assessments and high school graduation rates.

Districts, and schools, receive points for each component, the points added together and divided by the total points possible to determine a percentage of points earned.

A school that earns 62 percent of points or higher earns an ‘A,’ 54-61 percent earns the school a ‘B,’ 41-53 percent is a ‘C,’ 32-40 percent earns a ‘D,’ and 31 percent or less an ‘F.’

Wewahitchka Elementary and Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School each earned 56 percent of the total points, Wewahitchka Jr./Sr. High School 54 percent and Port St. Joe Elementary 49 percent.

The district’s grades, as with test scores, reside somewhere in the top half of the state’s 67 districts.

Three district schools earned a ‘B’: the two Wewahitchka schools and Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School.

Port St. Joe Elementary received a ‘C’ though the school increased its overall points earned by 35 and increased by 5 percent the percentage of total potential points earned.

The school saw an incease in 6 of 7 grade or course components, but declined in the science and also struggled in learning gains by the lowest-performing 25 percent in math, losing points in both areas.

The school was just five points away from a ‘B.’

“I have no doubt that Port St. Joe Elementary will be an ‘A’ school in the next two years,” Norton said.

Wewahitchka Elementary, which had earned an ‘A’ last year fell to a ‘B.’

The school’s students produced a five-point gain in science, but struggled with learning gains among the lowest-performing students, with just 41 percent of those students realizing gains in English Language Arts.

There were also slight decreases in the scores of the remaining testing components, the resulting loss of points dropping the school a letter grade.

Wewahitchka Jr./Sr. High School, on the flip side, continued the steady progress of recent years, improving a letter grade to a ‘B.’

The school will be the only one in the district that will earn state school recognition dollars next year, those dollars going to schools graded ‘A’ or which improve a letter grade.

In addition to increases in scores nearly across the board, the WHS students demonstrated significant growth in middle school acceleration, math, English Language Arts and math learning gains among the lowest quartile of students.

Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School earned its second-straight ‘B.’

Of note, the school’s middle-school acceleration and college and career acceleration each grew by double-digits points.

In addition, Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School was the lone school that did not test at least 98 percent of students; Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School met the state threshold of testing at least 95 percent of the student body.

Port St. Joe Elementary tested 100 percent of its students; Wewahitchka Elementary 99 percent.

Statewide, the percentage of schools earning an ‘A’ or ‘B’ increased by eight points and the number of failing schools decreased 61 percent.

More than two-thirds of low-performing schools being monitored by the state since 2016 improved grades to a ‘C’ or better.

“I am incredibly proud of our state’s students, parents, teachers and leaders for their hard work, which led to these exceptional outcomes,” said Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart.

“(The grades are) further evidence that Florida’s accountability system is integral to ensuring all students have access to the high-quality education they deserve.”