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State releases school grades

The grades are in for elementary and middle schools in the state.   
The Department of Education says more schools earned an "A" this year, over last year....
       
But more also earned "F's."
In Escambia County, nine schools earned an "A"
Eight earned "B"'s
Nine "D"'s
And four schools received "F"'s
      
The Escambia Virtual School program - or Home School - also received an "F" grade

Jenise Fernandez
Myrtle Grove Elementary School went from a D to an F.
In total there were 4 schools in Escambia County that received an F grade.
   
Superintendent Malcolm Thomas says while there's a need for improvements, there were some bright spots, especially at the middle school level.

This is the 3rd year in a row Escambia County received a "C" grade.
Grades improved at 13 schools but dropped at 17.
Superintendent Malcolm Thomas says middle schools had the most improvements, with no "F" grades being issued.

"Last year we had two. Bellview Middle school went from an F to a C. So you have to celebrate and be happy about that."

But Thomas says work needs to be done at the elementary level.
He says the county faces multiple challenges with the demographics.  Many students live in poverty, and receive free or reduced lunch rates.

Malcolm Thomas
"When you're working with that and there are such few resources in the home, not that the parents don't love their children because they do, but their resources are going toward putting food on the table."

But some worry the low grades for some schools could have serious effects. People may not want to live or work here.

Chris Crawford
"If you're a family and you're looking to buy a home, what's the first thing you look at? What's the school district? And if it's an F, D, or C, you're not gonna want to move there."

Others say the school district needs to work harder to help children who may not have an ideal home life.

Eric Stevenson
"When kids don't get a good education or have a bad experience, you see higher recidivism rates, you see higher incarceration rates. You see people get trapped in poverty."

Jenise Fernandez
But there are big changes next year with a brand new exam.
Superintendent Thomas says, there's no telling what sort of challenges this new test will bring.