Academic achievement at several Indian River County schools showed improvement this year, but schools with large African-American and Latino student populations continue to falter, according to the 2018-19 school grades released by the Florida Department of Education.
Beachland Elementary showed the most improvement, with its state grade leaping from a C to A in one year. Beachland, the island’s only public elementary school, received A grades every year until recently.
“We are very pleased with our school grades, as we know it takes the work of many dedicated individuals and the persistence of our students to make this possible,” interim Superintendent Susan Moxley said in a written statement after the state scores came out.
“We will continue to work hard, while celebrating our success and overcoming obstacles, to improve our individual school grades each year and meet our district goals.”
Overall, Indian River County School District received a B rating for the 2018-19 school year, the same grade it has received every year since the 2015-16 school year. There are 24 schools in the district.
Six schools got better letter grades, including Rosewood Magnet Elementary, which improved from a B to an A. Citrus Elementary, Glendale Elementary and Sebastian Middle schools climbed from C to B. Vero Beach Elementary went up from D to a C.
“The staff and students at Citrus Elementary worked so diligently this year, and I could not be more proud of the achievement of increasing a letter grade and making a ‘B’ status,” said Kim Garcia, principal at Citrus Elementary.
Five schools received a lower grade. North County Charter School and St. Peter’s Academy dropped from an A to B.
Sebastian Elementary and Sebastian River High School both saw their grades fall from B to C. Treasure Coast Elementary also dropped from a B to C.
All other schools maintained their previous year’s letter grade.
Moxley and Board Chairman Laura Zorc noted that while the school grades are important, there are other factors that measure a school’s success.
“I have mixed emotions about the school grades because our students and schools are being given a label for the most part from a single state assessment,” Zorc said.
“As a parent of three school-aged students, I think it’s more important for me to focus on the school that fits my children’s unique learning needs, not its letter grade.
“However, this year we know we had campuses that soared off the charts and some that are having challenges. In preparing the budget for the next school year, we will need to make sure we fund additional supports these schools may need to ensure every child is given the opportunity to succeed.”
The Florida Department of Education has been issuing school and district grades since 1999.
They are based mainly on Florida Standards Assessment scores and end-of-course exams, but also factor in student improvement and graduation rates when calculating school grades.