LAND O’ LAKES — School officials in Pasco County had expected the results might not look all that favorable when the Florida Department of Education announced this year’s school grades.
Their expectations proved accurate.
Five schools earned an F, the most ever for Pasco, when DOE released preliminary grades Friday for elementary and middle schools. High school grades won’t be released until later in the year.
The F schools were Gulf Highlands Elementary, Fox Hollow Elementary, Centennial Elementary, Gulfside Elementary and Moon Lake Elementary. Last year the district had no F schools, although it would have except the state didn’t allow schools to drop more than one letter grade in 2013.
Three elementary schools saw their grades improve from 2013, 15 maintained their grades and 25 saw their grades drop. For middle schools, two improved their grades, seven maintained them and six experienced a drop.
District officials said disputed FCAT writing scores contributed to the grade drops for several elementary schools. Superintendent Kurt Browning and several other superintendents have questioned the writing scores because numerous students who generally perform well received low scores.
The low grades also can be attributed to the fact that Pasco schools this past year concentrated on making the transition to the new Florida State Standards, which go into effect this coming school year, district officials said. But the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, which determines the school grades, is based on the old standards.
“These are very challenging times,” Browning said Friday in a prepared statement. “Providing stability and clarity to the school accountability system during the transition to new standards is almost impossible as we attempt to prepare for the future and continue to test the past.”
Browning predicted that issues with grades will continue for the next two years as the new standards are implemented and a new assessment test is introduced.
Assistant Superintendent Amelia Van Name Larson reiterated that the district is “deeply committed to excellence, innovation and equity.”
“We understand that many of our students today will hold jobs that have not yet been invented, using skills not yet defined,” Larson said in a prepared statement. “As such, we not only need to equip them with the ability to answer the questions relevant to our current reality; we must also enable them to ask the right questions to shape what is yet to come.
“School grades are a small part of this bigger picture.”
It wasn’t all bad news for the district.
Lacoochee Elementary, a turnaround school that came under extra state scrutiny a year ago because it had earned a D grade three years in a row, improved to a C.
Chester Taylor Elementary and Mary Giella Elementary also both improved from a D to a C. Rushe Middle improved from a B to an A and Pasco Middle improved from a D to a C.
Six elementary schools earned an A, eight earned a B, 14 earned a C, 12 earned a D and five earned an F.
For middle schools, three earned an A, three earned a B, two earned a C and six earned a D.
Here’s how the grades break down. Crews Lake K-8 is counted as both an elementary school and a middle school:
Elementary schools: Cox, D; Trinity, A; Denham Oaks, C; Chester Taylor, C; Pasco, D; Marlowe, D; Chasco, C; Sunray, D; Oakstead, B; Gulf Highlands, F; Double Branch, B; Trinity Oaks, B; West Zephryhills, D; New River, C; Gulf Trace, D; Crews Lake K-8, C; Veterans, A; Watergrass, C; Odessa, A; Woodland, C; Connerton, B; Mittye P. Locke, C; San Antonio, C; Richey, D; Hudson, D; Cotee River, C; Lacoochee, C; Schrader, D; Fox Hollow, F; Centennial, F; Seven Springs, D; Deer Park, B; Mary Giella, C; Northwest, D; Cypress, C; Anclote, C; Pine View, B; Gulfside, F; Calusa, D; Moon Lake, F; Lake Myrtle, B; Sand Pine, A; Wesley Chapel, A; Longleaf, B; Seven Oaks, A.
Middle schools: Seven Springs, A; Chasco, D; Pasco, C; Centennial, D; Dr. John Long, A; Paul R. Smith, C; Rushe, A; Stewart, D; Crews Lake K-8, C; Gulf, D; Bayonet Point, D; Weightman, B; River Ridge, B; Pine View, B; Hudson, D.
Charter schools: Dayspring Academy, A; Academy at the Farm, A; Countryside Montessori Academy, A; Athenian Academy of Pasco County, C; Imagine School at Land O’ Lakes, B; Florida Virtual Academy at Pasco, D.