The Gilchrist County School District is ranked fifth in the list of 67 state school districts in a ranking released by the Florida Department of Education today. Though Gilchrist County is one of the smaller Florida counties, Gilchrist County School Superintendent Don Thomas says the real secret to a successful school is its teachers.[audio:http://www.wuft.org/media/audio/thomas2.mp3]
Thomas says their high ranking could be attributed to their unique attention to teacher needs.[audio:http://www.wuft.org/media/audio/thomas3.mp3]
Thomas says certain qualities of their county set them apart from others.[audio:http://www.wuft.org/media/audio/thomas5.mp3]
The ranking is based on each school’s total points derived from FCAT scores. Thomas says he’s proud of the support Gilchrist county has received from both the teachers and the community.[audio:http://www.wuft.org/media/audio/thomas1.mp3]
Florida Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson says ranking the state’s school districts is designed to start conversation, not stigmatize those at the bottom of the list, but critics say that’s exactly what the rankings will do. Some state officials also say it’s unfair to rank the districts solely based on scores from the state’s stadardized exam. St. Johns County ranked number 1 while impoverished Madison County ranked last. Robinson says he and Governor Rick Scott jointly decided the FCAT-based rankings should be compiled in the interests of transparency and to broaden discussion about education in Florida.