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Florida ranks school districts using FCAT scores

The Florida Department of Education released a ranking of all 67 school districts Monday, using FCAT scores alone.

Critics immediately slammed it as simplistic and misleading because it does not consider a district's size, demographics or progress, or use other indicators such as graduation rates. The state superintendents association called it a "disservice."

But Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson offered a polite defense, saying the information is still useful to parents, teachers and taxpayers, and will spark more dialogue about how to improve schools.

"Let's put it out there right now to have this kind of conversation," Robinson said.

Pinellas came in at No. 49 and Pasco at No. 34. Hernando tied Hillsborough at No. 38.

The ranking is based on points from the latest Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores, which were released last summer and used to determine district grades. The DOE turned them into a ranking and repackaged them with a link that is front and center on the department's website.

Next to each district's rank is the name of the superintendent and the school board chair.

"Ranking school districts by performance allows taxpayers to see their investment in education at work," Gov. Rick Scott said in a written statement.

Superintendents lined up to disagree.

"It's not a fair view of how districts are doing," said Hillsborough superintendent MaryEllen Elia, whose district was ranked No. 38. She said she would have liked to see how districts compare on other gauges, such as Advanced Placement results, and on subgroups of students, such as those still learning English.

The St. Johns County district, on the outskirts of Jacksonville, was No. 1. Madison County in rural North Florida was No. 67.

St. Johns has the lowest rate of students receiving free and reduced-price lunches in the state (22 percent). Madison has among the highest (78 percent.)

A Tampa Bay Times analysis of district performance, also released Monday, looked at FCAT data over a 10-year period and also considered demographics. It found that some districts that did not rank high on the state list, such as Miami-Dade, have been making more progress than districts with far lower rates of poor and minority students.

The Times analysis is "on point," said Miami-Dade superintendent Alberto Carvalho.

Pasco superintendent Heather Fiorentino looked on the bright side.

"We are delighted to lead the Tampa Bay area in student achievement," she said.

Times staff writer Jeffrey S. Solochek contributed to this report.

Ranking Florida's school districts

DistrictFCAT points earnedFCAT 2011 rank Total

% Free or reduced lunchFree or reduced lunch rankPercent minorityMinority rank
DATA PROVIDED BY GOV. SCOTTdata supplemented by the times
Alachua53225 27,495 48.9%1352.2%48
Baker49951 5,004 47.4%1117.5%7
Bay53126 25,943 53.1%1926.2%18
Bradford48758 3,278 63.8%4930.5%24
Brevard5668 71,866 41.6%635.5%32
Broward53126 256,474 54.5%2573.4%63
Calhoun54418 2,249 61.7%4323.9%15
Charlotte53821 16,640 59.5%4125.4%17
Citrus55014 15,676 54.5%2418.2%8
Clay55413 35,812 35.5%229.1%23
Collier52133 42,919 58.6%3660.0%55
Columbia50848 9,810 62.4%4631.5%27
Dade51937 347,406 70.2%5791.4%66
Desoto46964 4,938 73.7%5955.3%51
Dixie55712 2,044 73.0%5814.9%3
Duval50350 123,995 53.2%2060.3%56
Escambia51044 40,227 59.5%4050.0%45
Flagler53029 12,931 58.0%3535.5%31
Franklin48560 1,350 74.9%6017.5%6
Gadsden47462 6,300 81.7%6796.4%67
Gilchrist5735 2,636 57.7%3410.5%2
Glades53920 1,439 55.7%2958.3%53
Gulf53423 2,014 51.2%1720.0%11
Hamilton45265 1,799 76.7%6256.5%52
Hardee48560 5,036 76.7%6365.7%60
Hendry47063 6,821 77.7%6574.8%64
Hernando51738 22,711 55.1%2727.5%19
Highlands49852 12,128 67.8%5451.4%47
Hillsborough51738 194,353 56.0%3061.0%57
Holmes51242 3,374 63.3%489.0%1
Indian River52930 17,740 53.7%2140.2%37
Jackson52231 7,161 57.1%3338.3%34
Jefferson44166 1,104 75.5%6175.2%65
Lafayette52231 1,157 59.0%3827.8%21
Lake51044 41,110 54.4%2341.3%38
Lee53722 81,965 62.3%4551.2%46
Leon53324 33,326 43.4%852.6%49
Levy51541 5,737 69.2%5627.6%20
Liberty53126 1,462 55.7%2824.8%16
Madison41167 2,720 78.1%6661.6%58
Manatee50947 44,249 53.8%2247.2%44
Marion51044 41,961 62.2%4443.8%41
Martin5753 18,170 39.2%435.6%33
Monroe5668 8,356 44.0%945.5%43
Nassau55014 11,100 44.1%1016.7%4
Okaloosa5726 28,695 38.6%328.6%22
Okeechobee49454 6,789 68.2%5545.0%42
Orange52034 175,986 57.0%3268.0%61
Osceola51738 53,466 63.1%4771.5%62
Palm Beach54916 174,659 51.0%1663.5%59
Pasco52034 66,994 51.5%1831.7%28
Pinellas50449 104,001 49.6%1540.1%36
Polk48659 95,178 65.6%5153.2%50
Putnam49156 11,244 77.2%6443.6%40
St. Johns5941 30,708 22.1%118.9%9
St. Lucie51242 39,259 60.5%4259.4%54
Santa Rosa5762 25,533 42.6%719.6%10
Sarasota5744 40,899 49.1%1432.5%30
Seminole5697 64,228 41.0%543.5%39
Sumter55910 7,626 59.2%3930.6%26
Suwannee49255 6,172 66.7%5231.7%29
Taylor48857 3,153 67.7%5330.6%25
Union54019 2,281 59.0%3722.5%13
Volusia52034 61,559 56.4%3138.4%35
Wakulla55811 5,151 47.6%1217.4%5
Walton54617 7,343 55.1%2620.8%12
Washington49653 3,491 63.9%5023.7%14

Florida ranks school districts using FCAT scores 01/23/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 7:56am]
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