Okaloosa is an A+ District Once Again

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From the Okaloosa County Superintendent Marcus Chambers

Statewide assessment scores were released recently for Florida’s public-school students in English Language Arts (ELA) Grades 4-10, Mathematics Grades 3-8, Science Grades 5 and 8, and End-of-Course exams in Algebra, Geometry, Biology, U.S. History and middle school Civics.

School and district grades were released by the Florida Department of Education. Statewide assessment results are a major component in the calculation of school grades. Middle and high schools also have an academic acceleration component for students who are successful in advanced classes or who earn industry certifications. High schools have a graduation rate component as well.

Okaloosa received an overall grade of A, one of 14 districts in the state to earn the highest rating. Superintendent Marcus Chambers was pleased with the results overall, considering the challenges experienced over the last two years. “Okaloosa joins St. Johns and Sarasota as the only three counties in the state to earn an A rating every year since the baseline year for the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) in 2014-2015. That’s something of which we can all be very proud!”

Individual school grade results are as follows:
• 17 schools maintained their grade from the last time it was reported for the 2018-2019 school year
• 11 schools fell one letter grade from either A to B or B to C
• 5 schools fell two letter grades from A to C
• 3 schools, Fort Walton Beach High School, Choctawhatchee High School, and Crestview High School, received an “I” for incomplete. District staff are working with the Department of Education to resolve that issue.
• No schools received a D or F

Chambers noted that the last two years have been unprecedented in public education. “We felt that coming through the last two years of COVID could definitely have an impact on student performance and school grades, particularly in the elementary level where 3rd grade students have only known going to school in an abnormal environment. Four of the five schools that fell two letter grades were elementary schools. We are excited to see how quickly these schools rebound to their former performance levels.”

While it is expected that high ranking districts such as Okaloosa outperform state averages, which it did in every tested category released, Superintendent Chambers highlighted a few areas in which he was particularly proud of student performance. “We continue to do very well in Algebra I with 65% of our students proficient compared to the state average of 54% and in Geometry with 65% proficient compared to the state average of 50%. In middle school Civics, 74% of students were proficient compared to the state average of 69%, and in US History, 73% were proficient compared to the state average of 65%. US History and Civics are a very important part of our curriculum, and we want to continue to excel in this area.”

Secondary science was also a strongpoint with Grade 8 science results showing 60% of students proficient compared to the state average of 45%. In Biology, which is tested in Grade 9, 69% of students were proficient compared to the state average of 61%.

Grade 7 and 8 Mathematics results showed 62% and 54% of students proficient, compared to state averages of 46% and 42%, respectively.

“While celebrating the success achieved by our students as a whole, we will re-focus efforts in certain areas such as early elementary ELA and in schools where we did not see the results we anticipated.” The district earlier reported that Grade 3 proficiency had dropped from 63% to 58%. Grade 4 ELA had a 58% proficiency rate, one point above the state average of 57%.

Those efforts began with an expanded Summer Intensive Studies program this year that served not only retained elementary students who were working to earn promotion to the next grade level but also any student having academic need. At the middle and high school levels, students used the summer program to retake coursework that was not passed during the year and completed 2,345 semester courses in total which helped keep them on track for graduation.

This is the last year that the FSA will be given. New legislation authorizes the replacement of the year-end FSA with the Florida Assessment of Student Thinking (FAST), a progress monitoring approach that will provide teachers and parents with statewide assessment information throughout the school year rather than only during the summer.

The 2022-23 school year will begin for students on Wednesday, August 10. Parents enrolling their students and are NEW (K-12) to the Okaloosa County School District should enroll by creating an account in the FOCUS Parent Portal at https://okaloosa.focusschoolsoftware.com/focus/auth/.

For questions, visit www.okaloosaschools.com/focus. You can also email FOCUSHELP@okaloosaschools.com or call the enrolling school with your questions. School contact numbers can be found at www.okaloosaschools.com in the Schools link.