© 2024 WLRN
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

School grades: How South Florida districts rated on new state tests

Students at Whittier Elementary School in Mesa, AZ work in groups and independently on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022.
Kate Payne
A student works on an assignment in Yuneisy Morell's classroom at Ponce de Leon Middle School in Coral Gables on Sept. 15, 2023.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools is the only school district in South Florida to earn an “A” letter grade last school year, under a new testing system known as progress monitoring.

The Florida Department of Education released its school grades for the 2022-2023 school year on Monday, though the ratings are only informational and don’t come with any negative consequences for districts.

“These school grades serve as a baseline for districts and provide a starting point for future achievement,” said Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz. “I look forward to seeing schools rise to the occasion as they continue to provide Florida students a first-rate education.”

Under the new scoring system, the Broward, Monroe and Palm Beach County school districts all received an overall grade of a “B”.

READ MORE: Statewide teachers union says Florida governor's budget doesn't do enough for public schools

The overall district grades reflect student success in:

  • Achievement in English Language Arts, Math, Social Studies and Science
  • Middle school acceleration (based on the percentage of eligible students who passed a high school level end-of-course assessment or industry certification)
  • High school graduation rates
  • College and career acceleration (based on the percentage of graduates who go above and beyond high school achievement — including by earning a passing score on AP, IB, or AICE exams, earning a passing grade in a college dual enrollment course, or earning an industry certification)

The grades released Monday for the 2022-2023 school year cannot be directly compared to previous years because of changes in the state’s teaching standards and its approach to standardized testing.

Still, the “B” grade represents a step down for the School District of Palm Beach County, which rated an “A” during the 2021-2022 school year.

“The School District of Palm Beach County is proud of our students, teachers, staff, principals, and parents for all their hard work and dedication to learning,” said Superintendent Mike Burke. “Together, we will build upon our strengths, address areas for growth, and rise to the challenge with a renewed sense of purpose and unwavering dedication to student success.”

Broward County’s new schools superintendent, Peter Licata, has also made earning an “A” grade a signature focus of his administration. He started the top job in July of 2023, after the 2022-2023 school year was over. Licata says the district remains committed to “continuous improvement”.

“This is the starting point for Broward County Public Schools under the new state standards as it clearly marks the path of what we need to achieve to become an “A” District,” Licata said. “Our District remains at a high “B,” which is encouraging, as we’re working our way through a transitional period.”

READ MORE: Teachers say they can't live and work in Florida anymore

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Jose Dotres congratulated students, staff and parents, saying the "A" grade shows that the district has innovated and adapted since the start of the pandemic — and worked hard to support the more than 20,000 new immigrant students who enrolled in the district last year, many of whom have very limited English proficiency.

“Our students, our educators, our leaders embraced the challenges that we were faced with … with resiliency and adaptability,” Dotres said. “We owe the children, the students of this community the best teaching and learning environment possible. And I believe strongly — on behalf of our collective effort — that we have delivered to this community.”

The grades released Monday for the 2022-2023 school year don’t make for an apples-to-apple comparison to previous years. That’s because it’s the first year that schools were using a new standardized testing system of progress monitoring, in which students are tested multiple times throughout the year on material they’re expected to know by the end of the year — giving students, parents and teachers periodic feedback on their learning gains.

Monroe County School District Superintendent Theresa Axford says adjustments are to be expected as students and teachers get more familiar with the new standards and tests.

“Both teachers and students learned a lot about the new format for the test which is totally digital, and are ready to demonstrate their mastery of the Standards on the 2024 Assessment,” Axford said. “I congratulate our schools for achieving an overall B grade for the district. Of course, we want to get an A and are striving for that. I believe that we have put in place strategies that will produce an A next year.”

Kate Payne is WLRN's Education Reporter. Reach her at kpayne@wlrnnews.org
More On This Topic