Walton County School District Remains an “A” During International Pandemic

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The Florida Department of Education announced the release of the 2020-2021 data that calculates school grades, district grades, and school improvement ratings. Florida has issued school grades to its schools since 1999. School grades are calculated based on proficiency and learning gains in core subject areas, such as reading and math, as well as additional components, including graduation rate and college and career acceleration.

Walton County, as a district, once again scored an “A” rating, which it has been now since 2018. This is the first time since grading began that this has occurred in three (3) consecutive grading periods. According to the state’s data release, Walton ranks #5 of 67 districts in district school grade calculation. The district improved by two (2) rankings from the 2018-2019 school year.

Superintendent A. Russell Hughes was elated upon hearing about the improvements in the district. He stated, “This ‘A’ means so much because of the opt-in.” For the 2020-2021 school year, districts and individual schools chose whether to opt-in in relation to receiving a district or school grade. Some schools throughout the state were unable to opt-in because at least 90% of

students were not tested on state exams. Superintendent Hughes continued, “To know that we not only held school, but did so at the highest levels with these results with 98% of our students testing, I could not be prouder of our students, employees, and stakeholders! An ‘A’ in the middle of an international pandemic says so much about your Walton County School District’s commitment to ‘Hanging On & Gaining On’, just like we planned during unprecedented times.”

Much like the district, two (2) Walton County schools opted in for school grade calculation, as well. West DeFuniak Elementary increased from a “B” to an “A”, and although Maude Saunders Elementary remained a “C”, the school had the most growth of ANY school in the district, from 42 points to 53 points (54 points are needed for a “B”, so the school missed a “B” by just one point). Additional schools maintained their school grade, but increased their points, such as Mossy Head School, which moved from 62 to 70 points, remaining an “A”.

From either their opt-in school grade or their decision to maintain their 2018-2019 school grade, the following are school grade results for Walton County. Ten (10) schools were designated as an “A”: Mossy Head School, West DeFuniak Elementary, Dune Lakes Elementary, Van R. Butler Elementary, Emerald Coast Middle, Freeport Middle, Walton Middle, Freeport High, South Walton High School, and Walton High. Two (2) schools are designated as a “B”: Freeport Elementary and Paxton School, and one (1) school, Maude Saunders Elementary, is designated as a “C”. Walton Initiative for Success in Education (WISE) received a school rating of “Maintaining” with an increase in learning gain calculation.

This is a reflection of extraordinary work done in classrooms during an international pandemic where administrators, teachers, and students had to navigate COVID protocols, to include fourteen 14- day quarantines at a minimum. There were scores of teachers and more than one thousand students that experienced interruptions of attendance. This further speaks to the exceptional work our teachers did with brand-new instructional practices of asynchronous and synchronous learning, ILDA, and virtual instruction – just to name a few – to foster these kinds of results is nothing less than incredible.

For more information on the Walton County School District, please visit https://www.walton.k12.fl.us/. The reports and guides to school grade calculations can be found at https://www.fldoe.org/accountability/accountability-reporting/school-grades/.

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