Parents in Northwest Florida can be confident that whatever school their child attends, they will receive a high-quality education.
A majority of local schools received an A grade in Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton county school systems, the Florida Department of Education revealed in its annual report card released Thursday.
That led to all three districts ranking in the top 10 among the 67 school districts statewide, with Okaloosa at No. 6, Walton at No. 7 and Santa Rosa at No. 9, according to DOE’s 2019 data.
Additionally, all three school districts earned an A this year. It was the sixth straight year for Okaloosa, the third year in a row for Santa Rosa and second consecutive time for Walton.
The improved school grades tracks statewide trends. The state DOE reported the school grades improved from 2018 with 63 percent earning As or Bs. Meanwhile more than 80 percent of F-rated schools in 2018 bettered their marks this year. Statewide, the number of F schools dropped to 15 in 2019 from 35 the previous year.
In Okaloosa County, 25 of 36 schools receive an A, up from 22 last year. Additionally, it had only one school receive a C down from three the previous school year.
Okaloosa Superintendent Marcus Chambers credited his students, teachers and administrators for the school district becoming one of only three districts in Florida to earn an A every year since 2016 when more rigorous assessments were implemented by the Department of Education.
“I am extremely proud to report that the students, teachers and schools continued a legacy of academic excellence,” Chambers said. “Although we did very well as a school district, we know there are still areas where we can improve. For the sake of every student in our school district, we will do just that; strive to get even better because our students’ futures are what are at stake.”
Santa Rosa County saw a big jump in the number of its A schools from nine in 2018 to 16 in 2019. The school system, like Okaloosa, also had fewer C schools dropping to two this year from six a year ago.
Bill Emerson, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment, liked the fact seven of its schools improved to an A.
“We had a lot of disappointed principals last year, so the worked real hard this year,” Emerson said. “Our constant goal is to look toward improvement.”
The number of A schools in Walton County doubled to 10 in 2019 from five schools last year. It has three B schools and one C school. The performance led to its highest ranking in its history at seventh statewide.
Its three high schools — Freeport, Walton and South Walton — and three middle schools — Freeport, Walton and Emerald Coast — all earned an A.
“This was intentional; this was purposeful,” said Russell Hughes, Superintendent of the Walton County School District. “Our teachers, students and parents all responded to the rigor and very high expectations we set.”
Check out the school grades on the state DOE website, fldoe.org, for more information.