Failing Schools Cut By Half In Miami-DadeBy Gary Nelson

MIAMI ( – South Florida kids put their minds to it and produced. FCAT scores for elementary and middle schools are out, and they are up, outpacing the rest of the state.

Broward County Public Schools received an overall grade of ‘A’ in the ratings. According to BCPS, 78 percent of Broward’s elementary and middle schools earned a grade of at least ‘A’ or ‘B,’ and just fewer than 94 percent earned at least a ‘C’ grade.

Monroe County also announced it had received an ‘A’ grade for the sixth consecutive year. Monroe County said its schools performed especially well in the mathematics portion of the FCAT and grading system.

For the fourth consecutive year, Miami-Dade County Schools couldn’t get out of last place among South Florida Schools, but came on strong. Miami-Dade received a ‘B’ grade for student performance overall.

“For three years in a row, we’re blessed to announce an overall improvement in Miami-Dade,” said Superintendent Alberto Carvalho at a Thursday afternoon news conference.

The gains come despite deep budget cuts that all school districts have had to endure.

“In our darkest economic hour, our students and teachers proved there is hope,” Carvalho said.

Principal Catlalina Flores brought her inner-city Miami-Dade school from an “F” to an “A.” Flores credited the success at Phyllis Wheatley Elementary in Overtown to long hours, hard work by teachers, and students who adopted a “can do” attitude.

Flores said she and her staff members were “in school until 11 O’clock at nights, thinking, how can we do this, how can we improve the grades at our school?”

Miami-Dade followed a model that targeted students with deficiencies and gave them individual attention to bring up the broader scores.

On his last day as Superintendent of Broward County schools, Jim Notter called the improved scores a great “going away present.”

“Be proud of your public school system,” Notter said.

The FCAT results in South Florida may not bode well for the educational leanings of Governor Rick Scott. Scott was in Tamarac Monday, signing legislation that boosts private schools and expands privately operated charter schools.

In Broward, all four schools that received “F” grades were charter schools. In Miami-Dade, a greater percentage of charter schools scored an “F” than did public schools.

Miami-Dade School Board Member Dr. Tee Holloway celebrated the FCAT results and decried the growing movement toward private and charter schools, calling it an unwarranted “drain on dollars for public education.”

While many grades across the state showed little to no improvement in their FCAT scores, the Florida Department of Education is giving most of the state’s primary schools a passing grade.

Over three-quarters of the schools were given an A or B in the annual ratings that came out Thursday. The grades are based on performance by students on the annual FCAT test.

FCAT grades for high schools will be released later this year.

To see how your school performed, click here.


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