Gulf District Schools gains a letter grade

After a two-year hiatus, Gulf District Schools were once again tested on the state’s school grading scale, and they came out ahead.

The school district received an overall B grade for 2022, a letter grade above their 2019 score. They were the only school district in the state to improve their letter grade.

“We really are operating at a B level,” said Superintendent Jim Norton. “We acknowledge that there’s room for improvement, but overall, for a district of our size, we feel we are doing very well.”

“I think there is definitely potential for an A grade in the future, but the grading rubric is very complex, so we will have to see.”

The school grades are based on 11 different factors – including standardized test scores in English, math, social studies and science; learning gains in English and math; learning gains of the lowest 25 percent in English and math;  graduation rates; and acceleration success (such as AP courses, dual enrollment or industry certification).

On an individual school level, Port St. Joe Elementary School and Port St. Joe High School both received B grades, while Wewahitchka Elementary School and Wewahitchka High School received C grades.

In state standardized assessments, Gulf County schools performed, on the whole, just slightly below the state average, though many scores did show improvements from last year.

“Gulf District Schools’ scores indicate that we have made progress in some areas, while needing improvement in others,” said Gulf District Schools Director of Certification Tracy Bowers. “The third through 10th grade ELA scores show that we made adequate increases and minimal decreases. Improvements were noted in fifth grade ELA with a 13% increase and a 9% increase for seventh grade students. Decreases were noted in fourth, sixth, and eighth grade ELA scores.”

“In Mathematics, third through eighth grade students showed slight losses and significant gains with fourth grade showing a 15% gain and eighth grade showing a 6% gain. Gains were also noted in Civics and Geometry.  However, improvement was not noted in eighth grade Science and Algebra 1.”

Among third graders, in English, 56 percent at Wewahitchka Elementary School tested at grade level or better, three points above state average. In Port St. Joe, 48 percent of third-graders were proficient in English. In math, 55 percent of Gulf County students scored at grade level or better, three percentage points below state average.

Among fourth graders, the results were markedly lower in English, with only 47 percent at WES percent showing proficiency in the subject and 39 percent at PSJES, both below the state average of 57 percent. In math, the results were slightly better, with 63 percent scoring proficient or better in Wewahitchka and 58 percent in Port St. Joe, right around the state average of 61 percent.

Among fifth graders, 41 percent at WES showed proficiency, and 54 percent did at PSJES. The state average was 55 percent. Gulf County’s fifth-graders scored slightly below the state average in math as well with 47 percent at Wewahitchka and 44 percent at Port St. Joe scored at proficient or better. The state score was 52 percent.

Among sixth graders, 47 percent were at grade level or better in English in Wewa, five percentage points below the state average. In Port St. Joe, 52 percent of sixth graders scored proficiency or higher. In math, sixth-graders in Gulf County outdid the state average of 49 percent, with 53 percent at PSJHS and 55 percent WHS scoring at proficient or better.

Among seventh-graders, the English results showed 49 percent at grade level or better in Port St. Joe and 39 percent in Wewahitchka. The state average was 48 percent. Gulf County seventh-graders did particularly poorly in Math. Only 17 percent of Port St. Joe seventh-graders and 19 percent of Wewahitchka seventh-graders received a proficient or better score – 29 and 27 points below the state average.

In the eighth grade, 52 percent at PSJHS and 28 percent at WHS scored at proficiency or higher in English. The state average was 49 percent. Fifty-six percent of PSJHS eighth-graders scored at proficiency or higher in math, 14 points above the state average. In Wewahitchka 26 percent of eighth-grades were proficient or better in math.

In the ninth grade, 50 percent were proficient or better in English district-wide, one point below state average.

In 10th grade English, Gulf District Schools scored above the state average, with 51 percent of students showing proficiency or better versus the state’s 49.

“Gulf District Schools will continue to strive to make the necessary progress to increase student academic achievement,” said Bowers. “It is our aim to maintain a safe, education-centered school environment where students can develop the skills they will need to become productive citizens. The Superintendent and the Gulf County School Board would like to express their sincere gratitude to the administrators, teachers, support staff, parents, and community members for their dedication and support in this most significant endeavor.”

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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