These points display the location and quality of public schools (grades K-12) throughout Florida. Each school's quality is assessed using the Florida Department of Education's (FDOE's) School Accountability Report. In the Accountability Report, each public school is given a grade of A, B, C, D, or F with A indicating that school's students are generally high achievers when it comes to state learning standards and F meaning that many of the school's students fall below the learning standards set by the state.
School grades up to 2013 can be displayed by clicking on an individual school point. School grades lag by a year or due to the time it takes the state to administer the tests and calculate the statistics.
The Florida Department of Education is currently transitioning from the FCAT to the FCAT 2.0. While the FCAT 2.0 shares many traits with the original FCAT, it is a different test and therefore does change how public schools are graded somewhat. A detailed description of what the FCAT 2.0 is and how it differs from the original FCAT can be found here: http://fcat.fldoe.org/fcat2/
It's important to note that while it is generally more likely that a child will attend the school closest to his or her house, this is not always the case. A student's distance from the school is only one factor that is considered when school zones are drawn or redrawn, and in some instances children are allowed to attend a school outside of their designated zone anyway. Since school zones are redrawn all the time and enrollment rules can vary, it's best to check with your local school district to determine exactly which school your child will attend.
The most important factor to understand about the public school grading system Florida uses is that school grades are based on student performance ; they are not directly based on teacher quality. Of course, a class's achievement on a standardized test does measure instructional quality to some degree, but the class's performance is an indirect measure of how good or bad the teacher is. The students' personal attitudes toward school, their home lives and many other factors play a big role in how they perform on standardized tests like the FCAT and which grade their school is ultimately assigned. So remember that while an "A" grade is generally good and a "D" grade is generally bad, these letter grades are at best an indirect measure of the instructional quality your children will receive while attending the school in question.
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