17 July, 2016 ... School Grades Released for 2015/2016 School Year
School grades were recently released by the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE). We were not certain what the results would be, but the warning that school grades may take a hit was clear. We received a document concerning school grades just hours prior to grades being released. The initial paragraph read … “Schools that normally receive an “A” may get a “B” or even a “C” under the new school grading system. This is to be expected and is no cause for alarm”.
The result was, 40% less schools received an “A” as compared to the previous year. Unfortunately, both of our schools were impacted negatively by the new grading system. Our middle/high school received a “B” (missing an “A” by only two points) and our elementary received a “C”. Florida has increased education standards and has a new assessment to measure these new standards. In addition, there is a new, more difficult school grading system now.
These school grades are the first set of grades that can measure learning gains or how much a student progressed or grew under the new standards as measured by the Florida Standards Assessment, commonly referred to as the FSA. These new grades represent a higher set point or benchmark for students, teachers and schools. The way school grades are calculated has changed and are more rigorous than before. It is more difficult for schools and school districts to receive credit for student learning gains.
Each school, within a district, receives an individual grade. Those grades are then used to determine a district grade. Lafayette County School District, as a whole, received a “B”. There were only 3 school districts who received an “A” this year. In looking at data released by FLDOE, Lafayette is ranked 13th when compared to all 67 school districts across the state. To break this down even further, Lafayette is ranked 8th when comparing our district to the 39 “small and rural districts” in the state. Keeping in mind, a small and rural district is any district with 24,000 or less students. When comparing Lafayette to all districts with 10,000 or less students, Lafayette is ranked 6th.
In looking at the big picture, Lafayette faired pretty well this year. We are definitely not where we would like to be in all areas. We have been in transition to new, more rigorous standards and new assessments. There is no doubt that Florida has raised the bar. Regardless of the grade, I stand firmly behind the hard work of our students, teachers, and administrators. I truly believe we have one of the best school systems in the state. We are looking forward to overcoming these new challenges while continuing to provide our students with a solid education. Thank you for the overwhelming support you provide to our schools.
10 May, 2016 ... Lafayette High School Graduation Rates
This past December, the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) released the 2014-2015 high school graduation percentages for all counties. The percentage of graduates showing for Lafayette County seemed a little low in comparison to our calculations. We immediately began reviewing our data and comparing that to the data collected by FLDOE. The difference between the FLDOE data and our data was quickly identified as errors in student withdrawal codes. We contacted FLDOE and began preparing our request to have the student withdrawal codes corrected prior to grades being issued for the 2015-2016 school year.
School grades, for middle/high schools are composed of data from eleven categories. There are four core subject areas assessed by the state. These are: English Language Arts (ELA), Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. For each of these four subject areas there are 4 categories which look at student proficiency and 4 categories for learning gains on state assessments. This makes up 8 of the 11 categories. The remaining 3 categories are Middle School Acceleration, College & Career Acceleration, and High School Graduation Rate. There are 100 points available for each of the 11 categories for a total of 1,100 possible points.
The points from each of the 11 categories are totaled and then divided by the number of categories (11) available. For a school to be awarded a grade of “A”, it must maintain an average of 62 or more points across all categories. In other words, a school would need a minimum of 682 of the 1,100 points possible to be considered an “A” school.
As stated above, the High School Graduation Rate is one of the categories used in determining a school’s overall grade. According to the data released by FLDOE, we had an 80% graduation rate (80/100 points). We felt like considerable progress had been made in this area and the data was not reflective of our efforts. After identifying where the errors were, we were able to provide evidence showing our actual graduation rate was 87%. It was important to request the corrections be made, not only to help with our school grade, but to also show an accurate reflection of the success of our students and teachers.
Since the graduation rate lags behind one year, the graduation rate we were asking to be corrected will actually affect the current school year’s (2015-2016) school grade. The school grades for the current school year are due to be released in June of 2016. This past year was the first year Lafayette High School (LHS) earned an “A” for a school grade. We like being an “A” school and plan to repeat that again this year.
Although we do not have results from this current year’s assessments to begin calculating Proficiency and Learning Gains in the core subject areas, we have begun to look at our increases in the area of College & Career Readiness. We have increased in this area from 40 points to 58 points and look for this to be an even larger increase for next year. Some of this increase can be attributed to the addition of our Culinary Arts and Certified Nursing Assistant programs. Another major factor in the increase is the additional certifications being earned in our Agriculture and Business programs. We also have approximately 40 high school students who have completed over 200 dual enrollment courses through our surrounding colleges.
As I said before, last year was the first year we earned an “A” at LHS. Although school grades are far from our main focus, it is nice to be recognized for the hard work our students, teachers, administrators, and other staff put in each and every day. I appreciate the Florida Department of Education’s willingness to work with us and for making the corrections to our graduation rate.
2 March, 2016 ... Lafayette Schools Save Energy
According to a recent report released by the Florida Department of Education, Lafayette County School District ranks 15th in the state for annual energy cost savings. The report for the 2014-2015 school year shows the average energy cost per student across the state is $220.77 per year. Lafayette County Schools’ average cost per student annually is $202.27 resulting in a savings of $18.50 per student per year. When considering all energy sources, the average per square foot cost in school buildings across the state is $1.20/sq. ft. Lafayette County Schools’ average is $1.05/sq. ft. The result for Lafayette Schools is a savings of $21,922.50 in energy costs for the 2014-2015 school year.
The recent cost report released by the state looks at all energy sources used by school districts to include electric, natural gas, LP, and heating oil. The report is then broken down by district showing cost per energy source, for both buildings and student population. At Lafayette, our energy sources are electric and LP gas. This past year, we paid $232,869 for electric and $6,734 for LP gas. We do not currently use natural gas or heating oil at either of our schools.
At the time of this report, Lafayette School District reported 1,185 students. There are eight Florida school districts that reported 2,000 students or less. Within these eight districts, the energy cost per square foot ranges from $0.99 to $1.60/sq.ft. Looking at the same eight districts, the average energy cost annually, per student, ranges from $202.27 to $407.24 with Lafayette School district being the lowest by far.
Over the past several years we have replaced roofing, insulation, and older AC units in multiple buildings. This maintenance was needed due to the age of the buildings and AC units. Anytime we repair buildings and equipment, we also look at ways we can reduce energy cost at our schools. One way we are currently looking to save additional energy is through the installation of LED lighting. Research shows considerable savings in electricity can be achieved by using LED bulbs which use less energy and produce less heat when operating.
16 February, 2016 ... Lafayette High School Earns an "A" for 2014/2015 School Year
School Grades have been released. We are very happy to announce, Lafayette High School earned an “A”. School grades are a measure of students’ proficiency and growth in English Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies. Proficiency is a measure of how well a school’s students score on state assessments. Growth is how much a student improves from one year to the next as measured by state assessments. Other categories at the middle and high school level that determine school grades are middle school acceleration, college & career readiness and, graduation rate. Lafayette High School (LHS) has performed phenomenally in all areas.
Lafayette Elementary School (LES) is also to be commended for a job well done. LES received a “B” for its grade. If you’ve followed the news over the past year, you know multiple changes were made within Florida’s education system. State standards have changed, new state assessments were administered, and the cut scores for those assessments were raised to challenge our students even more. Our students and teachers have stayed the course and continue to rank among the best in the state.
Lafayette Schools, as a district, received a grade of “B”. Our district score was 329. We needed a score of 331 to receive an “A”. In other words, we missed being an “A” district by 2 points. We will be reviewing the grading criteria to determine if there were any errors made which would qualify for an appeal.
I would like to say thank you to our students, parents, teachers, and administration for rising to the challenges presented this past year. I am proud to be a part of such an awesome school system. You make our schools great!
28 December, 2015 ... Lafayette School District is Named the "Up and Coming District in Florida"
We are very pleased to hear Lafayette County School District has been selected as the up and coming school district for Florida. Any recognition it is greatly appreciated, and to be recognized on a national level is truly an honor. There is a genuine dedication by our parents, students, teachers, administration, and all support personnel involved to be the best. Being a part of a community where parents strongly support our school system and work hand in hand with our teachers to promote education is a blessing. The success of any organization is a direct reflection of the people involved, and our schools are no exception. Words cannot describe how thankful I am for the opportunity to live and work in Lafayette County.
Proficiency rating ... Proficiency is determined by the number of students who received a proficient score on the state standardized assessments taken each Spring. Assessments are rated on a level 1-5. Students are considered proficient in a subject area if they score a level 3 or higher. Assessments are taken by grade level in English Language Arts (ELA), Math, and Science along with End of Course Assessments (EOC's) in Civics, U.S. History, Biology, Algebra, Algebra 2, and Geometry.
Graduation rate ... There are a number of factors that figure into graduation rates. The state is looking at students as they enter 9th grade and expects those students to graduate with a diploma inside of 4 years. The data you reference from 2012/2013 shows Lafayette County with a graduation rate of 88%. This past 2014/2015 school year, Lafayette County increased to a graduation rate of 93%. We are pleased to see this number continuing to grow toward the 100% mark. We feel one of the main factors here is the increased number of college and career opportunities we are offering our students.
At this time we have roughly 40% of our Juniors and Seniors who are taking advantage of dual enrollment opportunities. Students are able to enroll in courses at North Florida Community College (NFCC), Taylor Technical Institute (TTI), and River Oak Technical College (formally Suwannee Hamilton Vo-tech) while still in high school. Completing a course at one of these institutions not only gives a student credit at the post-secondary level, but also credit at the high school level. This is all offered at no cost to the student. As students begin to experience success at the post-secondary level, they are more encouraged to complete high school and continue their education.
An additional factor in our increased graduation rate is the number of Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses we now offer. Students can now receive industry certification in one or more of four programs we offer. The programs include Business, Agriculture, Culinary Arts, and Allied Health. The number of students now participating in and completing our CTE programs continues to rise. As students earn certifications within each of these programs, they begin to gain knowledge and experience in an area they have chosen.
For example, a student can now graduate as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and begin a career immediately upon graduating from high school. This could lead to a life-long career in the medical field or provide income while attending additional education courses after leaving high school. Either way, it allows students to experience success early and encourages students to graduate from high school.
It is important for each and every student to have a plan for life after graduation. We all know there are a lot of years to live after leaving high school. Preparation and planning is necessary if someone desires to support a family and contribute back to their community. It is my goal that each and every student who graduates from Lafayette High School will have a plan and the guidance/support needed to accomplish whatever it is he or she decides to do after graduation.
9 July, 2015 ... Lafayette Students Score Well on State Assessments
As most of you are aware, the standards used to cover curriculum in our K-12 schools are referred to as the Florida Standards (FS). The main assessment used is the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA). Certain subjects are assessed using End of Course Assessments (EOC’s). We are still waiting on detailed data from the state concerning FSA’s and EOC’s taken this past year. However, we have begun to receive summary information from some of the assessments. Detailed information will not be available until after December 1st of this year due to a validity test of the assessments, currently being conducted by the state.
The state assessment results received thus far reveals the dedication of our students and teachers. Once again, our students and teachers are recognized as “among the best” when compared to others across the state. This was accomplished in a year where the standards being taught, the assessments given, and the method in which we assess our students all saw changes. Our students and teachers stayed the course and continue to be successful.
Here is what we can report on at the moment. At the elementary level, we were pleased to hear we are above the state average for 3rd grade FSA English Language Arts (ELA). At the middle/high level we are above the state average in all subjects where we have received data so far.
More specifically, our Biology 1 scores (Emily Beach) were the 3rd highest in the state. Algebra 1 scores (Brittany Jackson & Mary Koon) were 7th highest in the state. Civics scores (Sonya Koon) were 13th highest in the state. Congratulations to Mrs. Emily Beach, Mrs. Brittany Jackson, Mrs. Mary Koon, Mrs. Sonya Koon, and your students for a job well done.
I would also like to mention that assessment scores for our 8th grade Science (Mrs. Carla Jones), US History (Mr. Mike Harris), and 10th grade English Language Arts (Mrs. Lori Sadler) were also recognized as scoring above state average. Congratulations to you and your students for what you were able to accomplish.
9 July, 2015 ... Tropicana Speech Winners
At a recent school board meeting, we asked the winners of the Tropicana Speech contest to join us. The winners were Taryn Maund (1st place), Jaley Moseley (2nd place), and Bryant Long (3rd place). Each student was asked to share their speech at the school board meeting during our awards and recognitions time.
The speeches were absolutely amazing. It was hard to believe we were listening to 4th and 5th graders as they spoke in such detail about their particular subjects. Bryant began by talking about the proper way to utilize social media and safe guards to be taken when posting content. He explained that posting of pictures while on vacation is not a good idea since it would allow others to know the home is unattended. This could then lead to thieves identifying the home as an easy target.
Jaley followed up by explaining why it was so important for us to take time to “get outside and be active”. She went on to explain the rising rate of childhood obesity and how not being active contributes to this. She encouraged all of us to put our electronic devices down and get involved in some good old fashioned outside fun.
Taryn finished up by talking about her daddy’s career in medical sales and services. She explained how his company manufactures, sales, and helps with the installation of various equipment used in back surgeries. She spoke about the screws, rods, and other tools used when conducting a spinal fusion surgery. We were all impressed by her knowledge of the subject and the medical terminology used during the speech.
All of the speeches were very interesting and each student was well versed in the area they spoke on. Congratulations to Taryn, Jaley, and Bryant for an outstanding job conducting research and delivering their speeches.
4 June, 2015 ... Industry Certifications Offered at Lafayette High School
This year, 67 students were successful in receiving certifications within CTE programs offered at LHS. Career and Technical Education, or CTE, is something we have worked hard to provide for our students. CTE is designed to develop and maintain educational programs to prepare students for occupations important to Florida’s economic development.
The certifications earned through CTE give students an opportunity to leave high school with skills desired by employers. With the help of schools, business and industry, and trade associations, each program contains the academic and technical skills required to be successful in today’s economy.
CTE courses are grouped in clusters and by field. At LHS we offer CTE courses in Agriculture, Business, Culinary Arts, and Allied Health. Students can choose which field they are interested in and receive certification prior to graduating from high school. Students who meet the standard high school diploma requirements and have completed one or more industry certifications will graduate with a Merit Diploma Designation.
Within Agriculture we offer certification in Agriculture Technology 1 & 2. Through our Business program we offer certifications in Adobe Flash, Photoshop, and Dreamweaver. In Culinary Arts students can receive a Safe Serve certification and then transition to Suwannee Hamilton Technical Center to complete the remaining courses. In Allied Health we offer Health Science 1 &2, Nursing Assistant 3, and Medical Skills & Services. Through our Allied Health program, a student can take the state exam and become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).
Our Agriculture department was successful this past year in getting 40 students certified in Agriculture Technology. Our Business department had 1 student certified in Dreamweaver, 3 students certified in Photoshop, and 6 certified in Adobe Flash. Culinary Arts had 10 students receive certification in Safe Serve. Lastly, our Allied Health department had 8 students who are now officially qualified as a Certified Nursing Assistant.
In addition to courses we were able to make available at LHS, we also worked with Taylor Technical Institute (TTI) to provide access to courses we were not able to offer locally. This year we received 7 slots for our seniors to participate in courses such as Welding, Electrical and Instrumentation, and Millwrights. This is the first year TTI has offered slots to high school students outside of Taylor County. The instructors and administration personnel at TTI have had nothing but good things to say about the students from LHS, and have agreed to continue to extend this opportunity for our students.
I would like to thank our students and teachers for a job well done this past year. I would also like to thank our guidance counselors, staff, and administration for working diligently to ensure opportunities like these remain available for students in the coming years.
We are presently creating the schedule for the 2015-2016 school year. Students who are interested in participating in one of our CTE programs should see our high school guidance counselor for more information.