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2013 Florida Charter School Rankings: Charters Outperformed District Schools

Well, Florida’s preliminary scoring data have finally been released (a little beyond our original predicted timeline, sorry), but we got our hands on it and put together our own preliminary ranking of charter elementary and middle schools. The raw data files can be found at the FLDOE website.

We couldn’t justify ranking combination schools (K-8 or Combo HS) yet because these preliminary numbers do not include Final Adjusted Points, the HS Component score, or the total possible points section, so sorting the Excel sheet would be a nightmare and a lot of important information would still be missing. Besides, high school grades are pending, and in our experience those data will not be released until late in the year. We’re sticking to our original methodology for elementary and middle rankings, mainly in an effort to keep things simple.

One thing to keep in mind is that Florida’s grading metric recently went through a profound change due to alignment with Common Core standards, and 53% of Florida’s schools saw declines from last year. Most of these schools were “A” schools – 1,242 Florida schools that had “A” grades in 2012, but only 760 schools got “A” grades this year. All other grades (B, C, D, and F) increased in number. The biggest districts in Florida have expressed their concern for how this will reflect on performance. That said, just know that Florida students haven’t gotten dumber, the standards just got harder.


Florida’s Charter Elementary Schools

Hartridge Academy maintained its top spot among all Florida elementary schools (charter or district), even though the new standards took their toll on the school’s APE%, bringing the score down from 98% to 93%. In fact, among Florida’s charter elementaries, the average APE% declined from 65% to 62%. One example of plummeting scores is Archimedean Academy, which was in 2nd place last year, dropped 18 percentage points to 30th place in 2013. Archimedean also had the #2 charter middle school in Florida, so the elementary decline will be interesting to watch as those students matriculate into the middle school through the coming years.

The average APE score for Florida charter elementary schools in 2012 was 523.8, and the new standards caused a sharp decline to 492.7 (5.9% drop). Compare that to district elementary schools, which declined from 525.1 to 482.3 (8.2% drop), and it looks like district elementary schools were harder hit by the new standards than charter elementary schools were.

On that note, we felt it incumbent upon ourselves to point out that while charter elementary and traditional elementary scores were very close in 2012, we see in 2013 that, on average, charter elementary schools outperform district schools by more than 10 APE points.

128 charter elementary schools scored 50% or better, which represents 86.5% of the state’s charter elementary schools, and 1,477 district elementary schools scored in the same bracket, which comes to about 89.1% of the state’s traditional elementary schools. This illustrates that district elementary schools have a slightly stronger presence in the top half of statewide performance, respective of type. However, only 16.7% of district elementary schools scored 70% or more, which fell short of the charter elementary schools total of 27%. This once again shows that charter schools tend to occupy higher places in rankings than district schools, while the number of district schools in the middle percentiles brings Top 50th percentile measurements of charter vs. district very close again.


Florida’s Charter Middle Schools

The top echelon of charter middle schools didn’t really change that much from last year. Doral Academy of Technology (#1 in 2012) and Terrace Community Middle School (#3 in 2012) traded places, and the Somerset network maintained high positions with the same three schools from last year (two in Broward and one in Dade). One interesting move was International Studies Charter Middle School, which shot from 39th place in 2012 to 4th place in 2013 – an APE score increase of 153 points (and 17 APE% points)!

The average APE% for Florida’s charter middle schools in 2012 was 64%, but it dropped to 62% in 2013. Likewise, the average APE score in 2012 was 575, but declined in 2013 to 561.5 (2.3% drop). Florida’s district middle school APE% average was also 64% in 2012, but dropped to 61% in 2013, while the average APE score for district middle schools dropped from 575.2 in 2012 to 551.3 (4.2% drop).

These data show that, like in Florida’s elementary schools, Florida’s middle schools showed marked performance declines as a result of the changing standards. However, the changes appear to have affected district middle schools more negatively than charter middle schools. As of 2013, Florida’s charter middle schools, on average, outperform district middle schools by more than 10 APE points (identical to Florida’s elementary schools).

The median APE score for charter middle schools in 2013 is 564, down from 591 in 2012. The median’s purpose here is mainly as a placeholder so we can look at the top and bottom 50th Percentiles. There were 40 charter middle schools above that mark, all with an average APE score of 561.5 and APE% of 72%. There were 362 district middle schools above their median of 501, all with an average APE score of 583.8 and an APE% of 65%. This discrepancy between APE score and APE% is curious because it implies that the Top 50th Percentile of district middle schools scored higher on all relevant scoring matrices, while charter middle schools still received better grades in the end.

The most interesting thing about the median data is that the median APE score still serves as the general transition point from “A” to “B” for charter schools. On the other hand, in the district middle school world there are 109 “B” schools and 113 “C” schools above their median this year, indicating a pretty strong disparity between Florida’s charter Top 50th Percentile and Florida’s district Top 50th Percentile. This is clear from our closing number: 28.2% of district middle schools were “A” schools,  while 46.8% of charter middle schools were “A” schools.



All in all, the changes to Florida’s performance measurements appeared to have harmed the district schools more than charter schools, whether we’re talking about elementary or middle grades. We saw a lot of parity among average APE scores across the board last year, but this year charters clearly outperformed district scores in almost every measurement. We won’t know the affect on K-8s or charter high schools until later in the year, but it’s likely that the K-8 performance grades will come out the same way.

Again, these were preliminary data, and no doubt there will be appeals, revisions, recalls, and numerous complaints filed due to Florida’s performance transition, but for now it’s the best we have and we don’t see the thrust of our findings changing much at all.



FL charter primary rankings 2013






FL charter middle rankings 2013

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