District Grade Remains an “A”
Walton County School District Remains an “A” During International Pandemic
September 21, 2021
The Florida Department of Education announced the release of the 2020-2021 data that
calculates school grades, district grades, and school improvement ratings. Florida has issued
school grades to its schools since 1999. School grades are calculated based on proficiency and
learning gains in core subject areas, such as reading and math, as well as additional
components, including graduation rate and college and career acceleration.
Walton County, as a district, once again scored an “A” rating, which it has been now since 2018.
This is the first time since grading began that this has occurred in three (3) consecutive grading
periods. According to the state’s data release, Walton ranks #5 of 67 districts in district school
grade calculation. The district improved by two (2) rankings from the 2018-2019 school year.
Superintendent A. Russell Hughes was elated upon hearing about the improvements in the
district. He stated, “This ‘A’ means so much because of the opt-in.” For the 2020-2021 school
year, districts and individual schools chose whether to opt-in in relation to receiving a district or
school grade. Some schools throughout the state were unable to opt-in because at least 90% of
students were not tested on state exams. Superintendent Hughes continued, “To know that we
not only held school, but did so at the highest levels with these results with 98% of our students
testing, I could not be prouder of our students, employees, and stakeholders! An ‘A’ in the
middle of an international pandemic says so much about your Walton County School District’s
commitment to ‘Hanging On & Gaining On’, just like we planned during unprecedented times.”
Much like the district, two (2) Walton County schools opted in for school grade calculation, as
well. West DeFuniak Elementary increased from a “B” to an “A”, and although Maude Saunders
Elementary remained a “C”, the school had the most growth of ANY school in the district, from
42 points to 53 points (54 points are needed for a “B”, so the school missed a “B” by just one
point). Additional schools maintained their school grade, but increased their points, such as
Mossy Head School, which moved from 62 to 70 points, remaining an “A”.
From either their opt-in school grade or their decision to maintain their 2018-2019 school
grade, the following are school grade results for Walton County. Ten (10) schools were
designated as an “A”: Mossy Head School, West DeFuniak Elementary, Dune Lakes Elementary,
Van R. Butler Elementary, Emerald Coast Middle, Freeport Middle, Walton Middle, Freeport
High, South Walton High School, and Walton High. Two (2) schools are designated as a “B”:
Freeport Elementary and Paxton School, and one (1) school, Maude Saunders Elementary, is
designated as a “C”. Walton Initiative for Success in Education (WISE) received a school rating
of “Maintaining” with an increase in learning gain calculation.
This is an astonishing reflection of extraordinary work done in classrooms during an
international pandemic where administrators, teachers, and students had to navigate COVID
protocols, to include fourteen (14) day quarantines at a minimum. REMEMBER, there were
scores of teachers and more than one thousand students that experienced interruptions of
This further speaks to the exceptional work our teachers did with brand-new instructional
practices of asynchronous and synchronous learning, ILDA, and virtual instruction – just to
name a few – to foster these kinds of results is nothing less than incredible.
For the 2021-2022 school year, Walton County continues to move forward with the
Superintendent’s theme: EPIC 4wRd – Recalibrated, Refocused, Ready & Rocking! While we
are excited and celebrate these accolades, as always, we will continue to strive towards being
the number one school district in the state of Florida.
For more information on the Walton County School District, please visit
https://www.walton.k12.fl.us/. The reports and guides to school grade calculations can be