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School grades: St. Johns still top district in Florida; Clay earns 'A'

2 of 3 Duval County struggling schools fail to improve, will be taken over

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Clay County became an "A" school district in the school year that just ended for the first time in three years, while St. Johns and Nassau counties retain their A grades. Numerically, St. Johns County once again was the highest-rated school district in the state reading, math and percentage of total possible points.

The Florida Department of Education released its grades for the 2017-18 school year Wednesday, giving Duval, Flagler, Columbia and Union with B grades for another year, while Bradford and Putnam retaining C grades.

Overall, school grades improved statewide, with more than 1,000 Florida schools earning A's for the first time with 615 schools across the state improving by at least one letter grade. There were 10 fewer F schools, down to 33 in the state. 

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The only F schools in Northeast Florida were Hyde Park Elementary, Lake Forest Elementary and Somerset Preparatory Academy in Duval County, and Putnam Virtual Franchise School in Putnam County.

Lake Forest Elementary was one of Duval County's three low-performing schools that needed a C or better to remain open under school board administration. Northwestern Middle earned a D, the same grade as last year. The Duval County School Board had already chosen an outside management company that would run the schools if their grades did not improve.

School grades for NE Florida districts

Matthew Gilbert Middle improved from a D to a C, so it can remain open under existing administration.

Mason Davis, chief academic officer for Duval County Public Schools, told News4Jax that the outside firm will begin running Lake Forest Elementary and Northwestern Middle on July 1.

"What happens now is the board approved an external operator in January of this year, and the external operator will ... work on the academic progress of the schools," Davis said. "Parents have the option to opt out, even if the external operator wasn't there, for any school that receives a D or an F letter grade."

Overall, Davis said, the Duval County school district was pleased with the results from the state Department of Education. It's the highest grade the district has ever received.

"We are only 1 percent away from an A," Davis said. "It's a testament to the hard work of our teachers and students."

Some of the areas that contributed to the school district's 14 point gain include:

  • Increased student proficiency rates for English language arts and science
  • Increased civics test performance
  • Improved graduation rate
  • Middle and high school acceleration outcomes

State officials said this year's scores demonstrate continued school improvement.

"The school grades announced today are the result of hard work by our students, parents, teachers and leaders," Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart said. "I am extremely proud that Florida’s accountability system continues to ensure all students have access to the high-quality education they deserve and that it prepares them for college, a career and life."


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