Florida school districts receive letter grades

For the first time in eight years, the Palm Beach County School District is not getting an A on its report card.

The school district received a B from the state on Friday, falling only two points shy of the coveted A-rating it has held since the 2004-2005 school year.

Two Treasure Coast school districts dropped a letter grade.

After four years of B grades, St. Lucie received its first C since 2005 and Indian River received its first B after four years of earning A grades. The Martin County School District kept its A status.

The state first began calculating district grades in 2003 after then-Gov. Jeb Bush expressed interest in finding out how districts would fare if they were graded the same way as individual schools. That year, the state calculated school grades for both the 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 school years.

Palm Beach County received a B both those years, as well as the following year. Since then, though, the county has touted the fact that it's been an A-rated district.

Though a district's grade does not hold the same weight as a school's grade — schools who get an A or improve a letter grade get monetary rewards, while a school with a bad grade is put in a remedial program and closely monitored — it provides important bragging rights to counties.

The Broward County School District also fell from an A to a B this year, while Miami-Dade kept its B rating. 

The state this year introduced a number of changes to the school grading formula aimed to make the scoring system tougher. That meant fewer A schools and more D and F schools throughout the state, including in Palm Beach County.

The Palm Beach County School District ended up with one F-rated school this year, Barton Elementary in Lake Worth. It would have had more had the state not put in a one-year stop-gap measure barring any school's grade from falling more than one letter.

Similarly, it appears the state used that stop-gap measure for district grades, as well. Six school districts throughout the state benefited from that change: Jefferson County would have fallen to an F instead of a D, while Glades, Dixie, Liberty, Bay and Gulf counties would have fallen to C's instead of B's.

Kelly Tyko, Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers contributed to this report.

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