LETTERS: South Waltoners speak out

Published: Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 05:44 PM.

LETTER: 'A clear choice'


The point of educating kids is to give them the tools they need to be highly functioning adults. We know that the high school diploma does not carry the weight it once did as far as preparing our youngsters for the workforce, so now, more than ever, college readiness should be a major standard by which we look at how well our districts are carrying out their mission. 

Vague labels like ‘A Rated school district’ as assigned by Florida ’s Department of Education shed little light on actual district performance in this regard. I became curious about how we could rectify Walton County schools  being given a grade of ‘A’ by the state while concurrently producing students failing to score above 69 percent proficient in the areas of reading, math and science and a dismal 56 percent in writing on standardized tests.

US News and World Report composes high school rankings by state and district annually and I would encourage everyone to go to their website and explore the methods and 2014 outcomes.

The data is telling when comparing the average 'college readiness' scores of the districts that appoint versus elect their superintendents. There are 25 Florida districts that appoint their superintendents while 40 hold elections (as we do in Walton County ). There are five unique districts that I didn't include in my calculations (Lab schools at FSU, UF and FAMU), the Virtual School , and School for the Blind and Deaf. The average 'college readiness' score of the appointing districts was 28.56 compared to 17.2 for the districts that elect, with the higher scores implying greater readiness. Of note, Gilchrist, Hamilton , Jefferson, Liberty and Union Counties (all districts that elect their superintendent) had 'N/A' reported as their readiness score, reflecting too few students taking AP exams to qualify. I would point out that the Florida Department of Education has handed out three ‘F’ district grades, going to Jefferson, Hamilton and Franklin Counties . Franklin County is an election district and had a readiness score of 5.9.

Notable scores, if you don't visit the website: Walton 18, Okaloosa 35.8 and Bay 21.3. Alachua and Duval Counties are Walton's nearest neighbors that appoint their superintendents and score 31.8 and 36.7, respectively.

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