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Florida Releases Statewide School Grades; Sarasota Earns Lone 'A' In Tampa Bay

Students at Ridgecrest Elementary School in Largo show off their drone flying skills to Governor DeSantis.
Carrie Pinakard
WUSF Public Media
Students at Ridgecrest Elementary School in Largo show off their drone flying skills to Governor DeSantis.

By Carl Lisciandrello

The number of schools receiving an A grade increased by 63%, while the number of those receiving a grade of F dropped to just 15, according to number released by the Florida Department of Education on Thursday.

According to the department, 1,172 schools statewide (36%) earned an A grade in 2018-19, compared to 1,043 the previous year – a 31% increase.

“It is a great day for education in Florida and today’s announcement shows we are on a successful trajectory,” said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. “We are resolute in our continued efforts to ensure that Florida students have the chance to receive a world-class education regardless of their circumstance."

“The ultimate gift we can give future generations is the ability to achieve their life’s ambitions. I appreciate our state’s hard-working educators who made it possible and applaud our students on a job well done.”  

RELATED: Tampa Bay Area School-By-School Grades

Locally, Sarasota County was the only district in the Tampa Bay area – and one of 24 statewide – to receive a A grade. Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Polk, Hernando, Citrus, and Hardee earned B grades, while DeSoto and Highlands received grades of C.

Hardee improved from a C in 2017-18, while Sarasota maintained its A grade.

According to the agency, the number of D or F schools has declined 70% since 2015, and the number of F schools has dropped 93%.

RELATED: 2018-19 Statewide Grades By District

“Education is the means by which we free children from the shackles of ignorance,” said Richard Corcoran, Florida’s education commissioner. “A community has a right to have key insights into its schools and school grades. Meeting that goal is essential for any community to truly provide future generations the opportunity to achieve the American Dream.

“We are pleased to share this spectacular news and to reiterate our commitment to ensuring Florida has the No. 1 education system in the nation.”

Other highlights:

  • Out of 67 school districts, 54 earned a grade of A or B.
  • Five districts improved from a B to an A
  • 81 percent of F schools last year improved by one or more letter grade (21 of 26), as well as 77 percent of combined D or F schools (165 total).
  • Five districts (Alachua, Dixie, Flagler, Orange and Taylor) improved from a B to an A, and three (Hardee, Levy and Okeechobee) from a C to a B.

“For one student to spend even a single day in a failing school is unacceptable,” said Marva Johnson, state board of education chair. “That is why, as a board, we rely on the concrete evidence that our accountability system provides to make student-centered policy decisions. I express my sincere appreciation for the teachers and parents whose unconditional support enables our students to thrive.”
The Florida Department of Education uses a number of factors in compiling the grades, including student achievement and learning gains on statewide, standardized assessments, and high school graduation rate.

For more on the grades, visit the Florida Department of Education website.