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In year of statewide slide, Gadsden yields another A school

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By Cheri Harris

 CHERI HARRIS

Times 

Executive Editor

In a year when the number of “A” elementary school dropped by 48 percent statewide, Gadsden County kept the A’s it had last year and added one more, for a total of four elementary schools earning top marks.

“That’s significant in this particular environment,” Reginald James, superintendent of Schools, said in a press conference.

The preliminary school grades for elementary through middle schools released Friday morning also included the following results:

George W. Munroe

 Elementary School

2013: C

2012: B

Havana Middle School

2013: C

2012: C

Havana 

Elementary School

2013: D

2012: C

Gadsden Elementary Magnet School

2013: A

2012: A

Greensboro 

Elementary School

2013: B

2012: B

Chattahoochee 

Elementary School

2013: B

2012: D

Gretna 

Elementary School

2013: A

2012: A

St. Johns 

Elementary School

2013: C

2012: C

Stewart Street 

Elementary School

2013: A

2012: B

James A. 

Shanks Middle School

2013: D

2012: C

Crossroad Academy (Serves grades 

K through 9)

2013: A

2012: A 

This makes more than half the district’s schools “high-performing” schools earning A’s or B’s, and 82 percent of the schools earning a C or higher. High school grades are pending.

Because this year’s school grades included the transition from the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) to the Common Core Standards measured by End of Course exams, Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett recently announced that no school would drop by more than one letter grade.

In Gadsden County, two schools benefit from the one-letter-grade drop protection: Shanks Middle School, which would have received an F, and George W. Munroe Elementary School, which would have fallen from a B to a D. 

Standards have become more stringent since school grades were first introduced in 1999. According to information on the Department of Education website, elements added through the years include FCAT results of students in grades 3 through 10, student learning gains, FCAT retake performance, graduation rates, accelerated participation, and college readiness. In 2011, FCAT Writing criterion increased and in 2012, changes included adding scores for students with disabilities and English language learners to the performance components, incorporating new assessments, adding acceleration for middle schools, and revising the learning gains 

calculation. 

In 2013, the FCAT writing standard was raised, assessments in geometry and biology were added, learning gains targets for the lowest-performing students returned, a reading performance requirement was added, and the five-year graduation rate was revised. 

In this changing environment, James said his goal is for all schools to receive either A’s or B’s.

School district spokeswoman Shaia Beckwith said that when James took office in 2004, the district had no A or B schools, and 75 percent of the schools had received D’s or F’s.

When James took office, he said he knew he had to change the “failing culture” to one of success, so he adopted the motto: “No excused.”

Overall, James called the results of this year’s school grades a “commendable effort” from teachers, parents and students.

“This is a good day for Gadsden County Schools,” he said.