Education

Florida releases 2016 school grades; Harllee, Just for Girls deemed F

After recieving four F grades in a row from the state, Harllee Middle School has been deemed a "turnaround" school and officials have to take new measures to show improvement.
After recieving four F grades in a row from the state, Harllee Middle School has been deemed a "turnaround" school and officials have to take new measures to show improvement. ttompkins@bradenton.com

With an F grade from the state for the fourth year in a row, Harllee Middle School must undergo a turnaround plan, which may include transforming it into a school for the gifted.

Already, students who were supposed to enter the sixth grade at Harllee have been assigned to another school, Deputy Superintendent of Instruction Cynthia Saunders said Friday. Students entering the seventh and eighth grade are being offered the choice to go elsewhere, but may also choose to stay. If they stay, they’ll be getting a flood of extra support from the district, including extending the school day and bringing in more support employees.

“We’re bringing in a lot of interventions,” Saunders said.

Five Manatee County schools earned an A and 12 Manatee schools earned a B, but overall the Manatee County School District as a whole dropped from a B grade to a C grade.

Tillman Elementary School was also deemed an F school by the state for the second year in a row. Charter schools Visible Men Academy and Just for Girls also received F grades — at least the third year in a row for Just for Girls, jeopardizing the renewal of its charter.

The 2016 grades released Friday by the Florida Department of Education are the second set of state grades based on test results aligned to Florida Standards, the state’s version of Common Core. The 2015 grades were viewed as a preliminary baseline, which meant schools were held harmless to actions like turnaround status based on those grades.

Quite a few Manatee schools jumped up at least one grade level for the state ranking system including: Bayshore Elementary, Orange Ridge-Bullock Elementary, Palm View Elementary, Palmetto Elementary, Prine Elementary, Samoset Elementary, Blackburn Elementary, Moody Elementary, Rogers Garden Elementary and charter school Team Success.

Bayshore and Manatee High Schools, which earned a C and A in 2015, respectively, have incomplete grades from the state so far, which was a surprise, Saunders said. The district has no indication right now as to why the state did not issue a formal grade for those schools.

Overall, the state lauded the improvements districts made from year to year.

Across Florida, the number of schools earning an F dropped by from 204 in 2014-2015 to 103 in 2015-2016. Overall, a total of 1,137 schools maintained an “A” grade or increased their grade in 2015-2016.

In neighboring Sarasota, 22 schools were graded an A and 16 schools were graded a B. No Sarasota schools were graded a D or an F by the state.

Learning gains

One of the key components affecting Manatee school grades, and most negatively affecting the normally high-achieving schools, is a change in the way the state calculates a “learning gain,” Saunders said.

When grading exams, the state uses raw student scores to put students into levels, with Level 1 being the lowest-performing students and Level 5 being the highest-performing students. In the past, if a student scored the same raw score, and the same level score in third grade and fourth grade, that was considered a learning gain.

Now, the raw score has to move for schools to capture a learning gain for that student. Moving from one level to another is an obvious learning gain, but the state also wants to see raw score movement within the level now to capture a learning gain.

“Students are reading on grade level or performing the skills on grade level; the issue is that change in the learning gain calculation,” Saunders said.

With Title I schools, it’s been an all-hands-on-deck effort to get student scores up, Saunders said. But many of the other schools haven’t had that same emphasis in years past.

“With this new change of learning gains, we’re going to have to make some adjustments in our non-Title I schools,” she said. “We’ve been kind of preparing that this year.”

Charters at stake

With a third F grade in a row — although the baseline 2015 grade doesn’t come into play — Just for Girls’ K-5 charter school is in danger of having its charter revoked by state statute. Just for Girls received an F in 2014, 2015 and again this year.

Visible Men Academy may also be heading in that direction. The school had no grade for the 2014 year, its first complete year, but earned an F in 2015 and an F in 2016.

The continuation of charter schools, which are publicly funded schools that have their own boards and governing structures, is clearly laid out and defined in state statute. Under state statute, charters that earn an F two years in a row are automatically terminated, although there are a few provisions.

In mid-June, the state released some guidance to districts about how to handle the 2015 grades, saying that an F in 2014, an incomplete or F grade in 2015 and an F grade in 2016 means the charter is automatically terminated.

In Manatee, that means Just for Girls.

The students served at Just for Girls often come there far behind their grade level and have other challenges that prevent them from thriving in a traditional school setting, Becky Canesse, CEO of Just for Girls, said Friday in an email to the Herald.

“It is important to measure progress made by these students apart from where they are in their level of proficiency,” Canesse wrote.

Canesse highlighted recent gains the school made, including an 82 percent increase in attendance in the past year, as part of a concerted effort by the Manatee County School District to increase attendance at all Title I schools. Just for Girls also matched or exceeded district schools in eight of 12 progress indicators set by the state.

“We have a long history of successful collaboration with the District, and we are exploring our options to continue serving these students who need our help the most. The USDOE and FLDOE ‘encourage varying approaches and a focus on what can be done rather than what cannot be done,’” Canesse wrote.

Forward movement may include a waiver from the state, according to state guidelines. A waiver can be granted if the school makes a request with 15 days after the department’s official release of school grades. The school also has to demonstrate “the learning gains of its students on statewide assessments are comparable to or better than the learning gains of similarly situated students enrolled in nearby district public schools.”

The waiver is valid for one year and may only be granted once, according to the state. Charter schools that have been in operation for more than five years are ineligible for a waiver.

Meghin Delaney: 941-745-7081, @MeghinDelaney

School grades

Below is a chart comparing 2016 and 2015 grades for Manatee County schools. Please note, the 2016 grades are listed first in the chart, followed by the 2015 then 2014 grades.

SCHOOL NAME

2016

2015

2014

Anna Maria Elementary School

A

A

A

Ballard Elementary School

C

C

C

Bayshore Elementary School

C

D

C

Bayshore High School

I

C

C

Manatee Elementary School

D

D

D

Manatee High School

I

A

B

Jessie P. Miller Elementary School

C

C

B

Myakka City Elementary School

C

C

C

Oneco Elementary School

D

D

B

Orange Ridge-Bullock Elementary

D

F

D

Palm View Elementary School

C

F

D

Palma Sola Elementary School

B

A

C

Palmetto Elementary School

D

F

C

Palmetto High School

C

C

C

Robert H. Prine Elementary School

C

D

C

Blanche H. Daughtrey Elementary

D

D

C

Samoset Elementary School

C

D

D

Southeast High School

C

B

B

Lincoln Middle School

D

D

C

James Tillman Elementary Magnet School

F

F

C

Blackburn Elementary School

B

D

F

Frances Wakeland Elementary School

C

B

D

W. D. Sugg Middle School

D

D

F

Sara Scott Harllee Middle School

F

F

F

H. S. Moody Elementary School

C

D

B

Martha B. King Middle School

C

B

C

Florine J Abel Elementary School

C

C

C

Ida M. Stewart Elementary School

B

B

A

William H. Bashaw Elementary

C

C

C

Braden River Elementary School

B

A

A

Braden River Middle School

B

B

A

Sea Breeze Elementary School

C

B

C

Tara Elementary School

B

B

A

Louise R. Johnson Middle School

B

B

A

Gene Witt Elementary School

B

A

A

Carlos E. Haile Middle School

B

A

A

Lakewood Ranch High School

B

A

A

Kinnan Elementary School

C

C

C

R. Dan Nolan Middle School

A

A

A

Electa Lee Magnet Middle School

C

C

C

Braden River High School

B

A

A

Gilbert W Mcneal Elementary School

A

A

A

Freedom Elementary School

C

B

A

Virgil Mills Elementary School

B

A

B

Robert Willis Elementary School

A

A

A

Annie Lucy Williams Elementary School

C

A

A

B.D. Gullett Elementary School

B

A

A

G.D. Rogers Garden Elementary

D

F

F

Buffalo Creek Middle School

C

C

B

School Of Academic And Behavioral Learning Excellence (sable)

F

N/A

N/A

Manatee School Of Arts/sciences

C

B

C

Team Success A School Of Excellence

B

C

C

Manatee School For The Arts

B

B

A

Manatee Charter School

D

D

C

Oasis Middle School

C

I

B

Imagine Charter School At North Manatee

C

B

D

Imagine Charter At Lakewood Ranch

C

B

B

Palmetto Charter School

B

A

A

State College Of Florida Collegiate School

A

A

A

Just For Girls Academy

F

F

F

Visible Men Academy

F

F

N/A

William Monroe Rowlett Academy For Arts And Communication

C

B

C

Manatee Virtual Franchise (etech School Of Manatee)

I

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