By Al Pefley email
West Palm Beach, FL (WFLX) - Things appear to be looking up for schools in Palm Beach County.
The school district just earned distinction of being the only one of seven urban school districts in the state that is A-rated for five years in a row.
Palm Beach County also had a big jump in the number of A-rated schools. Up from about 110 last year to 120 this year.
"It would make it better for the children if they bring it up," said Willie English, whose granddaughter goes to JFK Middle School in Riviera Beach. JFK Middle School has made strides, moving up to a C-school from a D-rated school in 2008.
And because of that, it is no longer on the state's critical watch list of the 12 most troubled schools in Florida . "We're thrilled. Teachers worked really hard, students worked really hard. We're absolutely thrilled. It just shows hard work and dedication pays off," said Melvis Pender, former principal at JFK Middle.
JFK is one of the highlights in the latest school grades that've just come out.
Overall, the number of A-rated schools in Palm Beach County now stands at 69 percent.
In Indian River County, 87-percent of the schools received an A-grade.
In St. Lucie county that number is 45-percent.
And 86-percent of Martin County's public schools got an A-grade.
Statewide, it's being called the most successful year to date for public schools in Florida.
Three-fourths of all public schools in the state earned either an A or B.
In Palm Beach County, officials say the number of A-rated schools grew because they focused on the core subjects. "Writing has been our strong suit for some years now. Reading is the tough one. But it's where we've been focusing for the past three to five years," said Nat Harrington, Palm Beach County School District spokesman.
Harrington says more than 90 schools in Palm Beach County that were already an A-rated school maintained their A-rating. He says that is not easy to do. Several schools also jumped two letter grades, from a C to an A.