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Insiders: Gadsden County School District Gets Preliminary Incomplete Grade from the State

Insiders: Smells Flunky to Me
Insiders: Smells Flunky to Me
Posted at 11:00 PM, Apr 07, 2016
and last updated 2017-12-13 05:24:28-05

This story is part 1 of a 3 part series examining school district grades. Hamilton and Jefferson County school districts each received preliminary D's for 2014-2015 year. We'll take a look at those districts in parts 2 and 3.

GADSDEN COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) -- It's testing time at Gadsden County schools. Superintendent Reginald James is determined to not let what happened at East Gadsden High School and West Gadsden High School happen again.

After the Gadsden County School District received an"I" grade from the Florida Department of Education, the Insiders team went to investigate.

According to the Department of Education, the grades are based on graduation rates, acceleration exams such as advanced placement tests, and standardized testing scores, including those from the new Florida Standards Assessment.

Superintendent Reginald James said last year at East Gadsden 91 percent of  students tested and at West Gadsden it was 94.45 percent, falling short of the 95 percent required by the state.

"I don't think that will be a problem this year. We've discussed it with the principles. Everybody is on board. We basically had one school that violated the rule that did not test enough students and that was East Gadsden and I think we have that cleaned up," explained James.

"As you know, we have a history of performing very well prior to the FSA (Florida Standards Assessment) testing. We had five "A" schools and we had that on multiple occasions. Last year's grades we're modified and it didn't include learning gains, which was a big part of that status, so once that is factored back in this year, in a couple of months, I think we will be just fine," said James.

Still, a parent we talked to off camera say she's heard of other parents using Leon County addresses to send their children Leon schools instead.

The teacher union also says that the district is having a hard time keeping qualified teachers. That is why Ronte Harris, president of the Gadsden County Classroom Teachers' Association, says the union is pushing for higher pay. 

"We're facing a high level of teacher turnover at our schools and we are working to try to recruit qualified teachers and it all begins with teacher salaries. We are in the process of negotiating right now," said Harris.

The Florida Department of Education says Gadsden County did not appeal its district grade.

Our series continues Thursday April 14th as the Insiders take a look at Jefferson county. If you have a story idea for the insiders send us an idea to abc27news@wtxl.tv Attention Insiders.