“This is one of our district’s shining efforts,” Gadsden School Superintendent Reginald James said of the recent 2013 state school grade report. “It is one that everyone in the community can be proud of.”
More than half the district’s schools have earned a high-performing status of ‘A’ or ‘B’ and 82 percent of the schools are now ‘C’ or higher.
The district saw an increase in ‘A’ schools from three in 2012 to four in 2013 while across the state the more rigorous standards caused a reduction in “A” schools by nearly half.
“This is an important time in the history of Gadsden County’s schools; we are now beginning to become one of the top districts in the Big Bend area,” James said.
According to a district press release earlier this month, the State Board of Education adopted Commissioner of Education Tony Bennett's recommendation to prevent any individual school grade from dropping more than one letter grade in one year in order to transition to the more rigorous “Common Core State Standards.”
However, review of Gadsden’s grades reveal that this provision was not needed for nearly any school in Gadsden County.
“These grades are reflective of hard work of teachers, students and administrators,” James said.
One bright star for the district, Chattahoochee Elementary, earned its first-ever ‘B’ under the watchful leadership of Principal Valencia Denson.
Chattahoochee Elementary is the only school in the Big Bend area to improve by two letter grades; from a ‘D’ in 2012 to 'B' in 2013.
“It wasn’t an overnight turnaround. There have been a lot of sweat and tears from our faculty and staff, but most importantly from our students and their parents,” James stated.
“We have invested in the belief that ‘No Excuses’ were allowed and we have worked every day to make sure every child was learning, and nine years later we can say that we are on the right path,” he added.
The Gadsden District scores are important and impressive when they are compared to what has happened across the state with the most recent school grades.
Bennett stated in a recent telephone conference call that the number one issue was that “this year’s school grades are indicative of the fact that Florida has continued to raise standards for Florida’s children and, as a result of that, we have seen a decline in school letter grades as we have historically seen in the past as we have increased standards in the past.”
He continued saying that this is part of the transition to the “Common Core” curriculum that will start in the 2014-2015 school year.
Based on preliminary grades statewide, the number of "A" schools dropped from 48 percent to 29 percent while the number of "F" schools increased from 2 percent to 4 percent.
“This is a good day for Gadsden County schools,” James said, adding, “Anytime statewide school grades are falling and Gadsden County has more “A” schools than they had last year, that is a good day.”
(You can watch the interview of Supt. James on The Herald’s website at www.havanaherald.net)