School grades are out. It’s another banner year for Miami-Dade County Public Schools

Miami-Dade County Public Schools earns A-grade rating for second straight year

Miami-Dade County Public Schools superintendent Alvaro M. Carvalho announced on July 11, 2019 that the district earned an A-grade rating for a second straight year.
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Miami-Dade County Public Schools superintendent Alvaro M. Carvalho announced on July 11, 2019 that the district earned an A-grade rating for a second straight year.

It’s hard for a school district as vast and diverse as Miami-Dade County to achieve an A rating.

It’s even harder to keep it.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools is celebrating once again as Thursday’s release of school grades from the Florida Department of Education brought good news for the school district. For the second year in a row, MDCPS is an A-rated school district.

Even more impressive: There are no F-rated schools, traditional or charter, in the school district. That marks the third year district-managed schools are clear of failing schools.

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho was cautious to predict sustained success, as improvement from one year to the next weighs heavily in the state’s school grading system. It’s difficult to improve and maintain an already high grade.

Two cardboard cutouts of the letter A towered next to Carvalho, School Board members Perla Tabares Hantman, Martin Karp and Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, district staff and select principals at a press conference.

“Our theory of action is now proven that it’s not episodic, it’s really solid,” Carvalho told the Miami Herald. “We’re going to continue to approach the work in the same manner.”

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With 99% of Miami-Dade schools receiving an A, B or C grade, the school district elevated the state’s percentage of A, B and C schools to 95%.

Only one D-rated traditional school remains in Miami-Dade County: Earlington Heights Elementary. Carvalho says that school is one point away from a C, and the school district is scrutinizing how that grade was calculated and may appeal to the state. It’s an erratic grade for the school, which received an A in 2018, a B in 2017 and an F in 2016.

Carvalho said the fluctuations in grades may happen in schools with smaller enrollments because any changes can make for extreme variations. Earlington Heights had an enrollment of 425 students this year and 381 last year, according to the school district’s website.

Five charter schools received D grades in Miami-Dade.

Coupled with a graduation rate of almost 90% for traditional high schools, Carvalho called Thursday’s announcement of grades his proudest moment. He credited the accomplishments of teachers, leaders, students and parents, as well as support from the business community and the Miami-Dade County School Board.

“Anyone who does what we do knows it’s happened not by chance but by deliberate choice by those who embrace and embark on this work,” he said.

Carvalho highlighted several schools with improvements and recognized their principals. Toussaint L’Ouverture Elementary, a D school two years ago, received an A grade. Howard Drive Elementary, which has a large population of students with autism, jumped from a C to an A. Miami Senior High School received its first A grade.

“This is just a dream come true,” said Hantman, the School Board chair.

“Nobody does it better than Dade County Public Schools,” said Bendross-Mindingall.

The Broward County school district kept its B rating. The district has one F school, Championship Academy of Distinction High School, a charter school. There are seven traditional D-rated schools and six charter schools with D grades.

Statewide, 63% of schools earned an A or B grade, and only 15 schools received an F grade. Two of the three key highlights listed in the Florida Department of Education’s release noted how charter schools performed better than traditional schools: 51% of Florida’s charter schools earned an A this year compared to 32% of traditional public schools, and 74% of charter schools earned an A or B this year, compared to 61% of traditional public schools.

Colleen Wright returned to the Miami Herald in May 2018 to cover all things education, including Miami-Dade and Broward schools, colleges and universities. The Herald was her first internship before she left her hometown of South Miami to earn a journalism degree from the University of Florida. She previously covered education for the Tampa Bay Times.