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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/AP) – Fewer elementary, middle and combination schools received an “A” received an “A” for the 2011 – 2012 school year due to tougher grading standards.

Florida’s Dept. of Education reported last year 1,481 schools received “A” grades. This year, however, there were only 1,124 schools; a drop of 24 percent.

Earlier this month Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson warned that the school grades would drop because of recent changes to the state’s grading system. Still he noted there were achievements.

“I am particularly pleased that it is the first time that we have included students who are just learning English and students with disabilities in the school grade performance component,” said Robinson in a statement. “It is important that we measure our schools by the performance of all students, since that is the most accurate and fair way to represent our diverse state.”

Each year the state hands out A-to-F grades that are used to reward top schools and sanction those that get failing marks.

For the 2011-2012 school year, 667 elementary, middle or combination schools received a “B”; 510 received a “C”; 238 received a “D” and 47 received an “F”.

Miami-Dade County’s public schools turned in significantly stronger than expected school performance grades.  The percentage of A schools in Miami-Dade decreased by only 11 percent.  Additionally, Miami-Dade was able to lift all schools that earned an F last year, except for one.

The State Board of Education in May voted not to let any school drop more than one letter grade.

“It is never easy to raise the standards for excellence in education. This year is no exception. But every time we raise the expectations of our students and teachers, they ultimately get better in later years. Simply put, raising the bar works,” said Gov. Rick Scott in a statement.

Florida has raised expectations for school grades five times in the past ten years. The results show that after an initial drop, school grades improved consistently in the years that followed.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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