Us Beach Rankings

Two Palm Beach County schools have risen from a field of thousands to crack Florida's Top 10 in a first-time ranking of public elementary and middle schools by U.S. News & World Report published this week. 

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Best known for its annual sorting of the nation's high schools and universities, the publication did not calculate a national ranking in its inaugural examination of more than 79,900 elementary and middle schools. 

The Bak Middle School of the Arts Jazz band plays at the Grand Classica Cruise ship arrives at the Port of Palm Beach, April 13, 2018 in Riviera Beach, Florida. (Greg Lovett / The Palm Beach Post) © Greg Lovett The Bak Middle School of the Arts Jazz band plays at the Grand Classica Cruise ship arrives at the Port of Palm Beach, April 13, 2018 in Riviera Beach, Florida. (Greg Lovett / The Palm Beach Post)

Morikami Park Elementary, an application-only magnet school in Delray Beach, landed the No. 2 spot among the state's 2,567 elementaries.

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Bak Middle School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, another wildly popular magnet that requires audition for entry, came in at No. 7, in a field of 1,708. 

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Alerted to the rankings a day after they were released, Morikami Park Principal Stacey Quinones said Wednesday that the honor took her by surprise. 

"I had no idea! I'm ecstatic. I can't wait to tell the staff and our families," Quinones said. "They work extremely hard. It's going to be nice to get this type of recognition." 

Hard work was no doubt essential, but U.S. News described its calculations as "almost entirely rooted" in student performance on state math, reading and language assessments taken pre-pandemic. 

"For each state, schools were assessed on their shares of students who were proficient or above proficient in their mathematics and reading/language arts state assessments," according to a scoring primer U.S. News posted to accompany the rankings.

"Half the formula was the results themselves; the other half was the results in the context of socioeconomic demographics. In other words, the top-ranked schools are all high achieving and have succeeded at educating all their students," U.S. News said.

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Morikami Park scored 99.95 of 100 possible points, highlighting 98% of students scored at or above proficient in math and 96% scored that well in reading. That put the school ahead of all others in the district and second statewide behind Jacksonville Beach Elementary, another magnet school.

Quinones was one of Morikami Park's founding staff members when the school opened in 1998 as one of the country's first to offer an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program. (Westward Elementary in West Palm Beach also launched a PYP that year, Quinones recalled.)

She taught second grade but left in 2004 to pursue a track to principalship. Quinones became Morikami's principal in 2011. 

The school gets more than 1,000 applicants a year to fill about 144 kindergarten seats and a handful of openings in other grades, Quinones said. 

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But staff played a critical role in their success. "I have a very seasoned staff. ...It's rare when I have a teaching opening. I have teachers who have been here since 1998 and will finish their career here." 

To the north, Bak Middle School of the Arts earned 99.4 points of 100 with 95% of students at or above proficiency in math and 96% on that level or above for reading. 

 "I'm very proud," said Principal Sally Rozanski. "It's kind of nice to be compared to others like you and see that you're doing a good job and your kids are doing well."

Rozanski noted that while the school is a magnet, its focus is on the arts. Students are admitted based not on their academics but their performance at audition and stay at the school regardless of grade point averages.  

Bak grew out of the district's first arts magnet school for grades seven through 12 in 1989 and became a stand alone middle school of the arts in 1998. 

The Conservatory, Western Academy, Binks Forest also rank

Other Palm Beach County middle schools that fared well include The Conservatory @ North Palm Beach, which ranked 12th in the state and Western Academy Charter in Royal Palm Beach, which ranked 26th. 

At the elementary level, Binks Forest in Wellington ranked 24th in the state. 

U.S. News also provided a ranking of elementary and middle schools within their districts on its website.

For years, two Palm Beach County schools basked in the reflected glow of U.S. News' national high school rankings. Dreyfoos School of the Arts and Suncoast High routinely garnered a spot in the Top 100. 

But the magazine revamped its rating system in 2019, putting less emphasis on college-level courses and more on how schools serve poor and minority students. Both schools have been shut out of Top 100 for two years running. 

Dreyfoos and Suncoast weren't too far off, however, landing 109th and 128th, respectively, in 2021.  

Morikami Park and Bak were also named National Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education in 2020. The honor is based on academic performance and for progress in closing achievement gaps among student groups. Only 367 schools received the award that year, 11 of them in Florida. 

@sonjaisger

sisger@pbpost.com

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Palm Beach County elementary, middle school break Top 10 in state in new rankings

Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/careersandeducation/palm-beach-county-elementary-middle-school-break-top-10-in-state-in-new-rankings/ar-AAPu0xS

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