Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FIVE CHEERS; Saluting Schools

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FIVE CHEERS; Saluting Schools

Article excerpt

While Duval County proudly saw its schools receive a B grade from the Florida Department of Education, educational excellence rings the area.

The schools in St. Johns, Nassau and Clay counties received an A grade from the state, just three of 15 districts in the state to receive that honor.

St. Johns scored fifth of 67 districts in total points awarded, the district reported in a press release. And, the district increased its score this year.

St. Johns and Clay counties were two of just 10 districts to receive the highest grade for four years in a row.

Of the 11 schools eligible for school grades in Nassau County, six received a grade of A and five earned a B. Nassau County was one of only three districts in the state to achieve all A and B school grades.

The state uses the same criteria to grade school districts as it uses with individual schools: performance on the Florida Com- prehensive Assessment Test, learning gains of all students and gains of the lowest 25 percent of the students.

There is more than enough credit to go around, since educational success requires hard work by students, skilled and committed teachers, energetic and supportive administrators, and engaged parents.

The scores show that Northeast Florida is building an impressive classroom resume.

UNCOOL TO MISS SCHOOL

School begins shortly, which means it is important that all children attend on time. Not only do truants lose valuable instruction, but school districts can lose state funding, which is based on the number of students present.

It is unfair to the districts when students do not show up early in the school year when funding is determined, then appear later in the year for instruction.

In 2001, almost 10,000 Duval County students were absent on the first day of school, reports the Chamber of Commerce. Thanks to a program introduced by Lynn Pappas, former chamber president, the numbers dropped to 3,500 in 2002. Truancy dropped to less than 1,000 in 2003 and fewer than 100 on the second day of school. …

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