School grades have been announced for the 2016-17 school year and, of the 12 public schools located in Wesley Chapel, all either maintained their grades from the 2015-16 school year, or went up by at least one letter grade.
Letter grades are assigned by the State of Florida Department of Education (DoE), based on statewide standardized assessments. High schools also have a graduation component, based on how many students graduate in four years. The letter grades then reflect the percentage of points received, of the total number of available points.
The biggest jump in local school grades was at Quail Hollow Elementary (QHE). For the 2016-17 school year, QHE received an “A” from the DoE, a big boost from the C it received last year, in 2015-16. Prior to that, the school had been closed for two years for remodeling.
But, QHE isn’t the only school that improved. Veterans and Seven Oaks elementaries both improved from B to A, while Watergrass Elementary improved from C to B.
For the other elementary schools, Sand Pine and Wesley Chapel both maintained their A ratings, while Double Branch maintained its B. Wiregrass Elementary received its first-ever grade since it opened last fall, a B.
Wesley Chapel High (WCH) raised its grade back up to a B again after last year’s grade dipped to a C for the first time in the school’s history.
“I was ecstatic,” says Carin Hetzler-Nettles, who was the principal at WCH until she was named principal of the new Cypress Creek Middle High School in January. “It’s fun to see that grade improve, and it’s exciting for the community, staff and kids at the school.”
The other Wesley Chapel high school, Wiregrass Ranch (WRH), maintained the B rating it had last year.
Dr. John Long Middle School maintained its A from the previous year, and Weightman Middle School kept its B.
While the school grading system has many critics, the grades are widely used by parents as a measure of how well their child’s school is performing.
Hetzler-Nettles is among many who say that school grades are just one of many factors to be considered when attempting to measure a school’s performance. This is partly because a different group of students is tested each year.
“In high school, tenth grade is our heavy testing year,” she says. “Next year, we’ll test a completely different group of tenth grade students. There is a human factor.”
And, she says, the specific criteria that make up the school’s grade also are different from year to year.
“There are always things that change,” says Hetzler-Nettles. “The grading changes every year at the state level, and then we tend to see trends. This year, it seems like the schools are on an upswing.”