June 30, 2017
Wakulla County school district earned an “A” rating and ranked 3rd in the state for school year 2016-2017 for all 67 public school districts in Florida. District grades were released by the Florida Department of Education on June 26.
“To be third in the state after only St. John’s County and Okaloosa County for the percentage of points possible earned in Florida’s grading system speaks to the dedication of our teachers, students, administrators, and parents,” states Superintendent Bobby Pearce.
Wakulla was one of only 11 school districts out of the 67 to make an “A” this year.
In addition, Wakulla was the only school district to earn an “A” in the Panhandle Area Educational Consortium (PAEC). The surrounding 14 small school districts combine to form PAEC: Calhoun, FAMU DRS, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, Wakulla, Walton, and Washington.
Wakulla School District improved to an “A” from a “B” grade designation for the previous school year of 2015-2016.
Pearce adds, “Our teachers and administrators are to be congratulated for digging into the new Florida Standards Assessments (FSA) that replaced the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) three years ago. We’ve only had one year of usable baseline data from last year to figure out best practices for student learning and what to do when students struggle with the concepts.”
Students in grades 3 through 10 were assessed on English Language Arts (ELA) and Math standards. In addition, students in several grades were also assessed on Science and Social Studies standards.
There are 11 categories in which school districts earn points for a district grade designation. These include the percent of students who “pass” the tests with a 3 or higher on a scale of 1 to 5. “However, just as important as having a passing grade is digging into how much of a Learning Gain each student makes from year to year,” says Pearce. “We have to make sure struggling students get intensive help, and students who can achieve higher than a passing score of 3 are challenged to aim for 4’s and 5’s. Every student’s Learning Gain is important.”
Other categories besides test scores helped Wakulla School District earn an “A”. Riversprings Middle School and Wakulla Middle School combined to increase Wakulla’s “Middle School Acceleration Rate” by 10 points to 78 percent over the previous year of 68 percent. Middle School Acceleration is defined as the percentage of middle school students who pass a high school End of Course (EOC) exam to earn high school credit, and also those who earn high school-level Industry Certifications such as Microsoft Office Specialist.
Says Chief Academic Officer Sunny Chancy, “We were also pleased with improvement in the ‘Graduation Rate’ cell. This is the percent of students who graduate within four years of entering Wakulla High School as 9th graders. WHS increased from 78 percent in 2016 to an 87 percent Graduation Rate for 2017.”
Wakulla High Principal Mike Barwick added that WHS students also improved in the category of business-recognized Industry Certifications earned in Career and Technical classes. “We increased by 13 percent from 56 to 69 percent including Industry Certifications earned such as Emergency Medical Responder and Autodesk Inventor.”
Of the 11 categories that comprise the District Grade, Wakulla students improved over last year in 9 areas, with a special note on the increase in Math proficiency (on or above grade level) and in Math Learning Gains district-wide over the previous year.
Percent tested is also considered. Wakulla tested 99 percent of its students. Districts cannot earn an “A” unless they test at least 95 percent of their students.
Individual school grades are:
“A” – Wakulla High School, Crawfordville Elementary School, and Shadeville Elementary School;
“B” – Riversprings Middle School, Wakulla Middle School, and Riversink Elementary School;
“C” – Medart Elementary School
COAST Independent Charter School earned a “C”, and also factors into the Wakulla district grade.
Concludes Pearce, “Every branch of this school system is important to our students’ success. From Pre-K through elementary and middle school, teachers lay the foundation for student success in high school. Our para professionals, transportation and food service personnel, and every unit of this school system works towards ensuring that our children are ready to learn. ”
“Overall, we are celebrating student achievement for 2016-2017, but are already deep into planning for the 2017-2018 school year. Thank you to this supportive community for entrusting us with your children’s education.”