June 28, 2017
Wakulla County School District earned an “A” rating and ranked 5th in the state of all 67 public school districts in Florida for the 2017-2018 school year.
District grades were released by the Florida Department of Education on June 27.
“To be fifth in the state 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.
“I believe the number one ingredient in Wakulla’s success is the connection a teacher makes with his or her students. We have many enthusiastic, dedicated teachers whose day doesn’t stop at 3:00, and whose search for ways to get through to every student is their first priority.”
Wakulla was one of 20 school districts out of the 67 to make an “A” this year, and had the 5th highest number of possible points.
In addition, Wakulla was the highest ranking school district to earn an “A” in the Panhandle Area Educational Consortium (PAEC) of 14 school districts: Calhoun, FAMU DRS, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, Wakulla, Walton, and Washington.
Of the 4 out of 14 PAEC public school districts that earned an “A”, Wakulla had the highest score, followed in order by Liberty, Walton, and Calhoun.
Wakulla School District continued its “A” grade designation from the previous school year of 2016-2017.
Pearce adds, “While we celebrate our success, we also are already planning for areas that need improvement. Across the board, English Language Arts (ELA) scores were up. However, we need to concentrate our efforts more on Math for 2018-2019.”
“The concept of teachers and staff making those personal connections with students is what we are focusing on. Everything good stems from that. This attention to each student will also help as we respond to more School Safety and Student Mental Health awareness.”
Individual school grades are:
“A” – Wakulla High School, Wakulla Middle School, Riversprings Middle School, Crawfordville Elementary School, Riversink Elementary School and Shadeville Elementary School
“C” – Medart Elementary School
COAST Independent Charter School earned a “B”, and also factors into the Wakulla district grade.
Students in grades 3 through 10 were assessed on English Language Arts (ELA) and Math standards. In addition, students were also assessed on Science in Grades 5 and 8; Biology in high school; and Social Studies for Grade 7 in Civics and Grade 11 in U.S. History.
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.
States Superintendent Pearce, “Just as important as having a passing grade is digging into how much of a Learning Gain each student makes from year to year. 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.”
“Teachers are already dissecting the Learning Gains of their upcoming students to see what sub-categories in each standard could be taught more effectively. We are also visiting other similar schools successful in areas we need to work on.”
Other categories besides test scores helped Wakulla School District earn an “A”. Riversprings Middle School and Wakulla Middle School combined for Wakulla’s “Middle School Acceleration Rate”.
Middle School Acceleration is defined as the percentage of middle school students who pass a high school End of Course (EOC) exam such as Algebra 1 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 also concentrate on the ‘Graduation Rate’ cell that is part of the District Grade. This is the percent of students who graduate within four years of entering Wakulla High School as 9th graders. Some students thrive with different types of instruction such as virtual classes or smaller settings, so there are alternatives for them.”
Wakulla High School students also added to the “A” district grade in the category of business-recognized Industry Certifications earned in Career and Technical classes. For example, there is usually a 100% passing rate of students in the WHS Medical Academy who earn their Certified Nursing Assistant credentials while in high school.
Dual Enrollment college credit classes passed in high school also add to the District Grade. Advanced Placement courses whose students pass the standardized AP test at the end are also factored in.
Percent tested is also considered. Wakulla tested 99 percent of its students. Districts cannot earn a grade unless they test at least 95 percent of their students.
“Although it is not our only measure of success, it is validating to be designated an ‘A’ school district by state standards. We look forward to meeting the high goals we are already setting for the 2018-2019 school year,” adds Superintendent Pearce.