The academic performance of Collier County Public Schools is in the middle of the pack, according to a new district ranking released Monday by the state.
Collier ranks No. 33 out of the 67 school districts. Lee County ranks No. 22.
Collier Schools Superintendent Kamela Patton said the ranking raises questions about how the community can better support students with greater needs.
“This ranking brings to light the work that lies ahead — we greet it as an opportunity to improve,” she said in an email to the Daily News.
This is the first time the state has ranked schools based on Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores. The ranking also lists district grades, which were originally released in June.
Collier dropped from an A school in 2010 to a B school in 2011. Lee schools received an A for both 2011 and 2010.
The ranking takes into consideration the FCAT scores for reading, math, science and writing, learning gains in reading and math, and learning gains in reading and math among the lowest 25 percent of students in each school.
Critics of the ranking argue that the measurement is not accurate because it does not factor in demographic information such as socioeconomic status and students with language learning needs.
But Patton said there are still no excuses to what the data shows.
“We know who our students are,” she said. “We are empowered to focus on the student achievement for every student, regardless of their circumstances.”
She said through the use of ongoing discussions with school principals and the sharing of best practices, the district will continue to identify ways to improve delivery of education and student achievement.
“This is what is real, raw data which levels the playing field and empowers us, as a school district, to focus on our goals and all of the elements of great teaching and learning,” she said.
Florida Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson said this new ranking is the first phase of an initiative to make education information more transparent. Robinson said this was a request of Gov. Rick Scott.
“We don’t see this as the end. We see this as a step in having a conversation about education,” Robinson said.
He said the department of education also will release a list of the schools in the state ranked by number within the three main school groupings: elementary, middle and high school.
Donzelli said students should be concerned with their personal improvement and not with the ranking of their school.
“When it comes to academics, the only person you should be ranking yourself against is yourself,” he said. “We’re really not interested in how they do compared to ‘X’ county.”
The ranking could become nationwide once the FCAT is replaced with the national common core assessment in three years.
“You’ll really be able to compare how the state of Florida compares to Iowa,” Donzelli said. “That’s what will be new and interesting.”
St. Johns County was ranked No. 1. Madison County was ranked last of the 67 counties.