By Janet Bradley
Last week the Florida Department of Education released school grades for 2020-2021. The district grade for Gilchrist District Schools was an “A”, which is the tenth time in eleven years the district has received this high rating. The only year the district received below an “A” was in 2016 when they earned a “B”. GCSD was ranked fourth out of 67 districts in Florida. The districts ranking higher than Gilchrist were Lafayette, Nassau, and St. Johns counties.
Districts were given an option to opt in to schools grades this year due to the COVID pandemic and the role it has played in the schools. Only eleven districts in Florida chose to opt in to their district and school grades, GCSD being one of them. All districts and schools in the state were assigned points based on student achievement, but all districts and school grades were not released because they chose not to opt in. Gilchrist County chose to opt in to their district grade and school grades for Bell High School, Trenton Elementary, and Trenton High School, with Bell Elementary choosing not to opt in for a school grade.
School grades provide a way to measure the performance of a school by breaking the score of each school into components. There are four achievement components, four learning gains components, a middle school acceleration component and components for graduation rate and college and career acceleration. The four achievement components are English Language Arts (ELA), mathematics, science and social studies, and the learning gains components are in English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics. Each component is worth up to 100 points in the overall school grade calculation.
Schools also receive points for middle and high school students who pass an EOC (End of Course) assessment and industry certification exams. The graduation rate for high schools, and students passing AP, IB, or AICE exams, and students earning a grade in a dual enrollment course that qualifies them for college credit, all add points to the school grade.
Once the total number of points for a school has been calculated, they are turned into a percent of possible points earned. To earn an “A” the percent must be 62% or higher, a “B” is 54% to 61% of points, a “C” grade equals a 41% to 53% of points, and a “D” grade is 32% to 40% of points possible. Points 31% or less are given an “F” grade.
Trenton Elementary School received 443 points which gave them 63 percent of possible points needed to earn an “A”. Trenton Elementary Principal Ronda Adkins stated her students and staff continued to work hard and persevered through the many obstacles that all districts faced this past year during the pandemic. She commented, “We are very proud of the daily commitment and performance of our students and staff. Once again their hard work paid off and showed in the data.”
Bell Middle/High School received an “A” with a total of 682 points earning 62 percent of possible points. Principal Lisa Barry praised her entire faculty for working extremely hard every day to strive and maintain high expectations for every student. She said, “Our students continue to rise to these expectations. I am so proud that BMHS and Gilchrist County School District achieved an “A” rating in a very challenging school year. I am thankful for the faculty, students, parents, and entire community for their continuous work, dedication, and support given to BMHS.”
Trenton Middle/High School kept their “A” with a total score of 737 points which gave them 67 percent of points earned. Principal Cheri Langford expressed the 2020-21 school year is by far the most challenging year she has experienced in her career. She said, “I am beyond proud of the hard work and dedication exhibited throughout the year. When the students tested in May, you could see they all wanted to show what they had learned. They wanted to make their teachers proud, and I have never been as proud of our teachers and students”.
Superintendent James Surrency was pleased with the grades and stated, “We are extremely proud of all our students and all of our staff for all the hard work they put in this past school year to achieve the high student achievement we have come to expect in this district. We also appreciate the support of our families and community as we worked through a difficult year with COVID”.
Assistant Superintendent Darby Allen commented, “We are proud of all four of our schools. They all worked very hard through a tough year. There were students on virtual school, some moving in and out from virtual to brick and mortar, with COVID playing a role in this. Even though Bell Elementary School chose to opt out of a school grade, we are pleased with their hard work and dedication and the points they earned. They would have received an “A” if they had earned two more points. They had many factors which constituted a difficult year for them, and their staff worked very hard during this time”.
The Gilchrist County School District continues to provide an education that values student learning and works hard to ensure they are reaching all students, which is indicated in the achievement seen in the 2020-2021 school grades. This was a difficult year for schools all across the state, and Gilchrist continued to provide quality education.
Gilchrist School District Receives an “A” Grade for 2020-2021 Ranked 4th Out of 67 Districts in Florida
By Janet Bradley