Finding areas with great school ratings can be a difficult task. School ratings vary across the state, district by district, and even between different communities. There are some great schools, a few average, and plenty of schools that are rated at below the national average. Schools are generally ranked according to how well their students score in math, science, and reading & writing on the FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test). Other aspects that may be taken into consideration include the number of students per class, the education and experience level of the faculty, and the amount of resources or funding a school receives to put towards educational materials.
Find a Neighborhood With Great School Ratings
Where possible, we have included school ranking results in our descriptions of each community. We assume this is information you’ll want to have on hand when searching for a home and we have tried to provide enough for you to base an informal opinion on without looking it up on your own. This includes letting you know if there are schools in the area with very high ratings, and occasionally where there are schools with lower ratings that families may want to avoid. Furthermore, we are always happy to talk about the school district you’d be living in if moving into a specific community or neighborhood when you contact one of our agents. On the other hand, if you would like to see more detailed, logistical information, we encourage you to see the official website for the Florida Department of Education. Here you can look up specific public schools in the area you’re interested in and see the State’s grade of their educational performance.
How Are Public Schools Graded?
The grades that are given to each school are much like those on a report card for students. ‘A’ is the highest score and ‘F’ is the lowest. When calculating this ‘grade’, state officials look at the FCAT scores, the level of improvement from the previous year, and the level of improvement for the bottom (lowest ranking) 25% of students. The Florida Dept. of Education offers some great stats that are straightforward and easy to understand (and offered for free).
Additionally, the Florida Dept. of Education will inform you as to whether a particular school met the criteria for the No Child Left Behind Act, and to what extent. This aspect is gauged upon 39 different criteria, including conditions such as how well non-English speaking students are being integrated into the classroom and how well disadvantaged students are scoring on their tests. Some schools meet many of the criteria and yet have only a ‘C’ rating. Other schools meet few of the criteria and have an ‘A’ rating. It’s difficult to know how the NCLBA affects the quality of education at any given school, but we feel it never hurts to know how a school stands in all areas.
The grade a school earns determines the amount of state funding they receive, with ‘A’ schools and those that have made significant improvements being the most-highly rewarded.
Public Schools Ratings vs. Private Schools Ratings
Because the FCAT is used to determine a school’s grade, and the grade is then used to determine the amount of state funding they are eligible for, private schools (who do not receive state funding) do not have to administer the test or be graded in order to comply with state regulations. If you are interested in private schools in a certain area, you may have to search a little harder to find objective information about them. In general, when schools lie outside of the public system it can be more difficult to gage their value unless you find someone who personally knows their reputation. As with information on public schools we have tried to include what we know about the private schools in our community pages when possible. There are many great public, charter, and private schools in the Central Florida area.
As with anything else, use whatever resources you have to make the most informed decision before a move.
Fast Facts About Florida Schools (and a few great school ratings)
There are over 220 schools in just the Orange County Public School system, serving over 180,000 students as of 2011.
Orange County’s graduation rate has moved from 49.5% in 2000 to 80% in 2011.
On average, there are 15 students to every one teacher.
As of Dec. 2012, 35 high schools of the 75 that were evaluated received an ‘A’, with almost a third of these having improved from a ‘B’ in the previous year.
In Lake County, more than 85% of schools received a grade of ‘A’ or ‘B’ based on the state’s grading system, and over 37% of the teachers have beyond a Bachelor’s degree (Master’s, Doctorate, etc.).
Seminole County Public High Schools are in the Top 4% of the Nation, with 93% of all schools receiving an ‘A’ or ‘B’ rating.
*Facts provided by the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission data center and the Fl Dept. of Education.