Superintendent Steve Dionisio

Charlotte County Public Schools Superintendent Steve Dionisio.

Despite trying times educating students during the COVID- 19pandemic, two area districts did well.

The Florida Department of Education released ranking for the state’s 67 school districts this week based on test scores, and Sarasota came in sixth with an A grade, while the Charlotte County Public Schools district, which remained a B from 2019, was ranked 13th.

“This is the highest ranking of our district’s performance in 12 years,” Charlotte County Public Schools Superintendent Steve Dionisio said.

This is Charlotte’s best performance since 2009, when the district ranked 11th, he added.

“Of the state’s 67 districts, regardless of a district’s decision to opt in to receive its grade, our district improved from 33rd to 13th in overall rank,” he said.

Up until the coronavirus pandemic began in 2020, Florida school districts each received a letter grade based on student test score performance.

Due to the disruption at schools caused by COVID-19, the state allowed districts the option of whether to receive letter grades for the district and for individual schools.

While the Sarasota County Schools district again received an A grade, the district decided not to opt-in for each individual school — only the district’s performance as a whole, public information officer Craig Maniglia said.

It was rated A for the 2018-19 school year. The state Department of Education did not provide data for the 2020-21 school year due to the pandemic.

Charlotte County, which did opt in for its schools, received its sixth consecutive B grade.


Districts are evaluated on 11 components encompassing the core subjects: English, mathematics, science and social studies.

Also, acceleration and college and career readiness, as well as graduation rates are considered.

“Charlotte County Public Schools experienced an increase in performance ranking against other districts in all but one of these components,” Dionisio said.“A rise in rank of this magnitude from one school year to another has never occurred in our district.”

The only Charlotte schools that earned A’s were its two charter schools: Babcock High School and Florida Southwestern Collegiate High School.

Schools that improved from the last year in which grades were reported — in 2018-19 were: Babcock Neighborhood School (B); Peace River Elementary (B); Murdock Middle School (B); and Myakka River Elementary (B).

Schools that fell a letter grade include Charlotte High (C); Lemon Bay High (B); L.A. Ainger Middle (B); Port Charlotte Middle (B); Liberty Elementary (C); and Sallie Jones Elementary (B). Deep Creek Elementary dropped two letters from an A to a C.

School officials in all the districts attributed falloffs mainly to interrupted classroom learning due to the pandemic.

Dionisio lauded the staff, students and parents of Charlotte County Public Schools.

“The historic jump we just made during a pandemic was occurring is a true testament to the dedication and resolve of the CCPS family,” he said.

DeSoto County lagged behind, falling to number 62. It did not opt in this for grades this year either for the district or individual schools. In the 2018-19 school year, the state gave it a C grade.

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