Okaloosa Schools Earn Best School Grades Ever

With 33 schools earning A’s and three receiving B’s, Okaloosa Schools have turned in their best performance in the eight-year history of Florida’s education accountability system.

Only Gilchrist and Charlotte Counties joined Okaloosa in having no schools ranked below a B. 2006 was the second year in a row Okaloosa had all A and B schools.

Gilchrist, with only four schools in its district, achieved all A’s. Otherwise, Okaloosa, with 92 percent, was well ahead of all other Florida counties in percentage of A schools. Brevard County posted 82 percent A’s and Seminole County 78 percent A’s.

Neighboring Santa Rosa County, always a high performing district, ranked seventh in the state, with 73 percent of its schools earning the state’s highest commendation.

“It’s a little hard to keep the smiles off our faces today,” said Superintendent Don Gaetz. “Our students, their parents, and everyone in Okaloosa Schools should be rightfully proud of these earned results.”

Twenty-four Okaloosa schools have earned A’s in at least five of the past six years. Destin and Plew Elementary Schools and Destin Middle School have been “A” schools seven of the past eight years.

In recent years, Okaloosa has moved up rapidly from a C school system to an A district. No school district in the state has done as well academically as Okaloosa over the past five years.

School grades are largely based on FCAT scores but also include a formula that requires low performing students to make significant gains as well as other students achieving or surpassing state proficiency benchmarks.

Last month, FCAT scores released by the State Department of Education showed that, overall, Okaloosa students outperformed their peers across the state in reading, writing, math, and science achievement.

Wednesday’s release of grades by the State was particularly good news for Baker School, Northwood Elementary School and Richbourg Middle School, which all moved from B to A status this year. Laurel Hill repeated its B while Crestview High dropped a grade from A to B. All other Okaloosa schools got the state’s highest academic commendation.

The Academie, a district-operated performing arts school housed at the Northwest Florida Ballet, received its first school grade this year, an A. Since its inception, the Academie has consistently posted very high percentages of students achieving or exceeding state standards. But this year, the school was large enough to be graded for the first time.