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2012 Florida Charter School Rankings: Middle and K-8

We’re rounding out our Florida charter school rankings for 2012 with our Middle School and K-8 lists. All these data can be found at the FLDOE, just not so neatly packaged. Preliminary performance data have been released as of 6:00am this morning for 2012-13, but we won’t see final letter grades or APE scores until sometime near the end of summer, likely August. Until then, these rankings can help parents decide on school options in their area.

If you’ll recall, the best Elementary school in Florida in 2012 was a charter school. It looks like the best Middle school in Florida in 2012 was also a charter school, so read on to find out how the rest performed.



Refer to the scoring methodology in our previous rankings for the best Florida primary schools. The only difference Elementary/Primary schools and Middle/Combos (e.g. K-8) is that the latter include an extra 100 Adjusted Points Earned in order to account for their extra grades and metrics that go along with that. Again, we’ve discussed these in our previous articles, but note that the rankings below only include schools that qualified for the additional 100 Middle School Acceleration points based off their Middle School students’ participation and score on EOC assessments. This left out about 60 schools, but we can’t very well compare apples-to-apples if those oranges are included.


Florida’s Middle Charter Schools (grades 6-8): Charter School Tops Statewide List

Just as was the case for primary schools in Florida, the best Middle school is a charter school: Doral Academy of Technology. With reading, math, and writing satisfactory scores of 100%, Doral Academy ended up with an APE score of 843, which comes out to a 94%. It did so with an FRL rate of 40% and a minority rate of 90%, and it was joined in the statewide Top Ten by the three charter Middle schools listed below it.

Running a good middle school is difficult, mainly because student disengagement in those transitional years between Elementary school and High School can lead to dismal test scores and even early drop-outs. Of the 78 charter middle schools listed below, the top half of those graded were A-rated middle schools. It so happens that the median APE score is 591 – which serves as the border between those A-rated schools and the ones below them – hinting that in the world of charter middle schools there are the best, and then there is everyone else.  Another 12 below that median line were B-rated, meaning about 68% of Florida’s charter middle schools were rated “B-or-better.”

What’s interesting about this ranking is the jumble of letter grades in the low 60% range. We see five schools in a row get the exact same APE score of 560 and a corresponding B-rating, but then we see two charter middle schools get slightly lower APE scores (by only one or two points) and an entire letter grade taken away. Considering those charter middle schools ranked 44th and 45th had FRL rates higher than the schools ranked just above them, it’s odd that they would be docked a letter grade, especially when the school just below them was rated an A with an APR score almost 20 points lower.

But such is the world of ranking schools against one another; there really is no clear and fair system, which is why we chose to regurgitate the FLDOE’s list rather than creating our own. As much fun as rankings are, they should only ever be used as a contextual tool, not a rule book.


Florida’s Combo Charter Schools (grades K-8): District K-8 Takes Top Spot, But Also a Lot of Bottom Spots

Ironically enough, the best K-8 in Florida is not a charter school, despite that particular enrollment model being the “secret sauce” of charter schools’ success over the last 20 years. The K-8 charter model was reborn out of necessity – in the 18th and 19th Centuries, basically all schools were K-12 models because most of them were in a single building, if not a single room. By the 1960s, many Districts were parsing out grades in configurations of up to four separate groupings: elementary (K-5), middle (6-8) or junior high (7-9), and high school (9-12) or senior high (10-12). For charter schools on a budget in the late 20th Century, it didn’t make sense to build two separate buildings for elementary and middle school grades, and if you wanted to run a college prep curriculum you couldn’t just deliver it to elementary kids and expect some other middle school to carry on your work.

Thus, the K-8 was reborn, and even the K-12 campus structure has taken root once more in the charter school movement. But these Combo models are not only found in charter schools. Districts have also seen the advantage of keeping middle schoolers in a contiguous educational structure, and K-8 middle school grades don’t suffer the same upheaval as transitioning kids in conventional District schools.

But even though the best K-8 school in Florida wasn’t a charter school, that doesn’t mean charter K-8s don’t still outperform District K-8s. Of the 140 K-8s in Florida in 2012, District-run K-8s had an average APE score of 620 (69%), while charter K-8s averaged an APE score of 635 (71%). Although not statistically significant overall, within the Top 20 performing list, charter K-8s averaged an APE score of 745, while District-run K-8s averaged 740. In the Worst 20 performing list, charter K-8s averaged an APE score of 500, while District-run K-8s averaged a 510; however, District-run K-8s also comprised 75% of that Worst performing list.

But a little friendly competition aside, here is one inspiring piece of news from Florida in 2012: no K-8 on this list was F-rated, and only 5 scored less than a C. Even if Districts don’t like charter schools, they have been influenced by them and Florida’s children reap the benefits of shared innovation.


Middle and K-8 Charter rankings are below:


FL charter middle rankings 2012



FL charter K-8 rankings 2012

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