Carvalho praises educators, students for top performance year

Grades show positive improvement

Ashley Montgomery | 7/17/2014, 9 a.m.
Miami-Dade's middle, elementary schools celebrated last Friday after scoring top grades on the state's assessment of academic achievement. The announcement ...
Alberto Carvalho thanks teachers, students for a good 2013-14 school year at press conference.

Miami-Dade's middle, elementary schools celebrated last Friday after scoring top grades on the state's assessment of academic achievement.

The announcement was made at a press conference on Friday, as Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho praised the efforts and academic performance of educators and students in the nation's fourth largest public system.

The Florida Department of Education released school performance grades that morning.

Carvalho announced that 43 percent of M-DCPS elementary, K-8 and middle schools received a School Performance Grade of “A”, while only five percent received an “F”.

“Twenty-two of our schools in Miami-Dade jumped not by one single letter grade but by two or more grades, some schools going from a F to a D or D’s to A’s,” Carvalho said. “In addition to that, there were no fewer than four schools that went from F to B and two school that went from a B to D. I can not begin to tell you how difficult that is.”

He went on to show his gratitude to the leaders in the school board who have worked diligently to make the progress happen.

“I would have to say, in a system like ours, serving in terms of all students from Pre-K to 12th — serving close to almost a half of million students — the fact that a vast majority of them are poor, a huge number of them are English language-learners, to deliver and accomplish these results is stunning and reflective of super-human dedication,” he said.

This year marks the final year for Florida's current A-to-F grading system, which has been in place since 1999. Next year, grades will be based on schools' performances of a new state standardized exam that's part of Florida Standards, also known as the Common Core, a series of uniform academic benchmarks.

For now, school administrators are celebrating this latest academic achievement as urban schools continue to improve as part of a dramatic turnaround under Carvalho's leadership.

Carvalho invited several principals from schools around the county to introduce themselves and announce their new letter grade.

Gwendyln Haynes-Evans of Shadowlawn Elementary School announced her school went from a “F” to a “C”. Carolyn McCalla, principal of Pine Lake Elementary announced her school went from a “F” to a “B”. Lisa Wiggins of Amelia Earheart Elementary School proudly announced her school jumping from a “C” to an “A” along with Kim Cox, principal of Hibiscus Elementary School’s “D” to an “A” and Contessa Bryant, principal of Lenora Brayon Smith Elementary School’s big announcement of going from a four-time “F” school to a “C”.

School Performance Grades of “A” increased in the M-DCPS by eight percentage points, outpacing the state and large districts, including Broward, Duval and Palm Beach, according to a press release.

The 2013-2014 School Performance Grades are computed using student results from the FCAT 2.0 Reading, Mathematics, Science and Writing; end-of-course exams. The grades released all included the points earned by each school on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT).