Updated:TALLAHASSEE, Fla. —
The number of highly rated schools in Florida is dropping sharply this year.
Florida education officials on Wednesday released annual school grades that showed a 24 percent drop in the number of A-rated elementary, middle and combination schools.
Last year, the state had 1,481 schools receive A grades. This year, the number dropped to 1,124 schools.
The number of schools that received D and F grades also increased.
Each year, the state hands out A to F grades that are used to reward top schools and sanction those that get failing marks.
In all, 17 Orange County schools improved one letter grade or more -- nearly three times as many schools that received a lower letter grade.
Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson earlier this month warned that the school grades would drop because of recent changes to the state's grading system.
The state Board of Education in May voted to not let any school drop more than one letter grade.
Robinson was in Orlando on Wednesday. He said he has met with realtors to discuss how this year's drop in grades could impact property values, but he claims there is not a strong correlation.
“Having 365 fewer As than you did last year will raise questions, but raising questions is a good thing,” he said.
Orange County school board chair Bill Sublette said the school accountability system is working.
“The accountability movement, often referred to as FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test), I would argue makes it possible to have high-poverty populations make dramatic learning gains,” said Sublette.
Robinson said data over the past decade show every time the state raises the bar, students rise to meet it.