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Thursday, May 24, 2018
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Lake Placid official chides official for comment on grades

Lake Placid Councilman Ray Royce believes the School Board of Highlands County doesn’t have anything to boast about from the recently released school accountability grades.

Commenting at the end of Monday’s Lake Placid council meeting, Royce voiced his disapproval with comments a district-level administrator made about the district’s grades.

He said he couldn’t believe that a school official would say they are “thrilled” with the grades.

In Saturday’s edition of Highlands Today, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Brenda Longshore said they are “thrilled” with the grades, which show significant progress across the district.

Five of the district’s schools had a grade increase, Longshore noted. “We had a few that had a little bit of a drop, but for the most part we had some very, very nice increases.”

Of the five schools with improved grades, three are in Avon Park (Memorial and Avon elementary schools and Avon Park Middle) and two are in Sebring (Woodlawn Elementary and Hill-Gustat Middle).

Royce’s concerns were focused on the Lake Placid schools.

He noted that both Lake Country and Lake Placid elementary schools had “C” grades for the 2013-14 school year. That was a grade drop for both schools, which had a “B” in 2012-13.

He noted that Lake Placid Middle School has a “D” grade and the district has no schools with an “A” grade.

Cracker Trail Elementary was the district’s only school with an “A” in 2012-13, but it slipped to a “B” for the 2013-14 school year.

The district’s heyday of “A” school grades were the school years of 2006-07 and 2007-08 with six “A” grades and 2008-09 with seven “A” grades. Those “A” grades in 2008-09 were at Avon, Lake Country, Lake Placid and Park elementary schools and Hill-Gustat, Lake Placid and Sebring middle schools.

The 2008-09 school year could have been a banner year for the district, but all three high schools received a “D” grade.

In its press releases on Friday, The Florida Department of Education noted that the school grades were “preliminary.” School districts sometimes appeal school grades, which can result in a change in the final grade.

According to the FDOE, statewide 34 percent of the elementary schools and 38 percent of the middle schools received a preliminary “A” grade.

Last year, tougher state standards caused a drop in school grades statewide and in Highlands County, which had seven of its nine elementary schools drop a letter grade and all four middle schools drop a letter grade.

High school grades will be issued in the fall when additional components, such as the graduation rate, are added to the calculation.

This is the final year school grades will be calculated using the current formula. The new grading system next year will be based on the Florida Standards and the Florida Standards Assessment which will replace the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

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