PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Nine Bay County schools are ranked in the top 20% of schools statewide for test scores. Many of those have consistently been rated high among Florida schools.
Bay District Schools and Charter school administrators said it boils down to parental involvement.
“Schools function better and perform better when parents are involved so these schools have high-performing parents that are involved,” BDS Deputy Superintendent Denise Kelley said.
Bay District Schools Patronis Elementary, Surfside Middle School, Tyndall Academy and Bay Virtual all ranked in the 80th percentile of Florida schools. District administrators said they work hard to make sure teachers have the tools to further education as much as possible despite staff shortages.
School administrators said the district has added programs to help with learning loss from the pandemic.
“They have helped us with tutorials, with summer school curriculum,” Patronis Elementary School Principal Brooke Loyed said.
Loyed said her school has highlighted core subjects.
“We were laser-focused on our reading, our math, our science last year,” Loyed said. “But our overarching focus was reading because it is in all of our subjects and every subject is so heavy these days in language and vocabulary.”
Loyed said Patronis’ long-tenured staff is key to why the elementary school is a top state school for the fourth consecutive year.
“Consistency is big,” Loyed said. “We have not had a huge turnover in staff. Any time you have a lot of turnover, that’s hard. It’s hard to do the rebuild we’ve had consistency in administration.”
Five charter schools finished in the top 20% of schools statewide. Administrators said it was pivotal to make students feel like they were still in class while learning virtually during the pandemic.
“Making sure our students remember that they’re in school, even though they may be sitting, you know, at the dining room table or sitting in their bedroom on a computer screen they were still in school,” Bay Haven Charter Academy CEO Larry Bolinger said.
Once students came back to the classroom, administrators said they emphasized extracurriculars to get kids back in the groove of going to school.
“We give them the resources necessary for them to step up to every challenge that they see in front of them,” North Bay Haven Principal Nakia Morris said.
Every school but Tyndall Academy has been in the top 20% of Florida schools for at least two years. Charter schools North Bay Haven, Bay Haven Middle School, University Academy, NBH Career Academy and Rising Leaders Academy were in the top 80th percentile.
Merriam Cherry Street Elementary made the list in 2020-21 but not in the most recent rankings.