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The 13 Worst Schools In Florida Today

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The 13 Worst Schools In Florida Today

Attending the worst schools in any state can have far-reaching consequences. Learners may face academic setbacks, limited opportunities for higher education, lower self-esteem, and challenges in their social-emotional development. Lower graduation rates may result in lower income earnings, with educational achievements positively correlated to average pay in each academic bracket. 

Classification of underperforming schools is often difficult and highly sensitive, with the metrics used in measuring performance varying widely. This article explores the 13 worst schools in Florida by academic performance. We’ll also delve deeper into their locations, student outcomes, graduation rates, state assessment results, faculty size, and other qualifying metrics. 

Notably, the schools highlighted on this list were ranked based on publicly available school performance and student achievement data. The schools may rank higher on other metrics. 

Woodland Acres Elementary School

328 Bowlan St N, Jacksonville, FL 32211

Woodland Acres Elementary is a public magnet school in Duval County Public Schools. The school serves more than 600 students in preschool through fifth grade. GreatSchools.org gave the school an overall 1/10 rating. 

The school’s performance on state assessment tests falls below the district and state averages. Student achievement data from the Duval School District shows only 32% of full-year enrolled students achieved a passing score in the state reading assessment. The district average was 50%, while the state average was 57%. 

Moreover, Woodland Acres’s math performance was below the district and state averages, with 47% of the students attaining the proficiency target score. In Duval County School District, 58% tested at or above grade level in math, while 60% achieved the same across the state. 

The school’s accountability report also indicates that 66% of students come from low-income backgrounds and are eligible for reduced-price or free lunch programs. An equity assessment reveals that underserved students at Woodland Acres may be falling way behind their peers in the state. The attendance rates of 85% for the 2021–2022 school year were also lower than the district’s average of 90%. 

Elementary school students playing with building blocks.
Despite its poor academic performance, the school strives to provide a safe learning environment for its students.


West Elementary School

304 W Imogene St, Arcadia, FL 34266

West Elementary is a large public elementary school in the Desoto County School District. The student population at the school is 757. West Elementary serves pre-K through fifth-grade kids.  

While the school has a beautiful campus and a robust extracurricular program, its performance still lags behind the state average. The 2022 Florida Standards Assessment data indicates only 36% of the students attained proficiency in math, 34% in English, and 30% in science. The scores are far lower than the state average of 51%, 51%, and 46% for math, English, and science, respectively. 

The school has a minority enrollment of 56%. Additionally, 65% of the learners come from low socioeconomic backgrounds. An equity assessment at West Elementary shows underserved students may be falling way behind other students in the state. Only 10% of low-income or underserved students excel in state test scores, compared to 34% of other students. 

West Elementary received an overall 1/10 rating from GreatSchools.org, with U.S. News ranking it between 1596-2128 among the best elementary schools in Florida. Parent reviews of the school are a blend of positive and negative feedback. 

One parent praised West Elementary’s Leader in Me program, indicating that their child loves the school. In contrast, another highlighted a negative experience with the school’s administration, describing them as less compassionate. 

W. A. Metcalfe Elementary School

1250 NE 18th Ave, Gainesville, FL 32609

W. A. Metcalfe Elementary School is a public school in Gainesville under the Alachua County School District. The school serves roughly 205 kids in kindergarten through fifth grade. Metcalfe Elementary runs the district’s STEAM magnet program, offering accelerated learning to gifted kids. 

Unfortunately, the school’s performance falls below the state’s average. The Florida Legislature and the State Board of Education award performance grades to all K–12 institutions based on eleven metrics. Metcalfe Elementary received a “D” rating for the 2021-22 academic year

According to the 2022 state assessment data, only 26% of Metcalfe students attained proficiency in math. Students that achieved or exceeded the proficiency requirements in English and science were 25% and 20%, respectively. The test scores were far below the district’s and state’s averages. 

GreatSchools.org gave the school a 1/10 overall score. 91% of the students come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, with test scores for low-income students falling far below the state average for all students. 

 A best and worst symbol.
W. A. Metcalfe Elementary School is one of the worst schools in Florida, with consistently low-performance scores on state tests and reports of safety concerns from parents and staff alike.

©Dmitry Demidovich/Shutterstock.com

Gulf Highlands Elementary School

8019 Gulf Highlands Dr, Port Richey, FL 34668

Gulf Highlands Elementary, founded in 2006, is a public school nestled at the heart of the Gulf Highlands subdivision in Port Richey, FL. The school is part of the Pasco County School District. Gulf Highlands is home to roughly 660 “Gators” in preschool through fifth grade. 

The school aims to foster ingenuity, innovation, and growth among its students, shaping their personal and educational success during the elementary years. Sadly, Gulf Highlands’s performance falls below the state’s average. 

Only 18% of the students assessed performed at or above the state requirements for math proficiency. Additionally, 20% and 25% of students proficient in science and English still fall below the district and state averages. 

Underserved students at Gulf Highlands may also fall behind in their educational journey. An equity assessment of the school’s performance reveals that students from low-income or underserved backgrounds performed worse than the rest, widening the achievement gaps. 89% of the learners at Gulf Highland come from low-income families. 

Alfred I. Dupont Middle School

2710 Dupont Ave, Jacksonville, FL 32217

Alfred I. Dupont Middle School is part of the Duval Public Schools District. It is a public magnet school that serves roughly 731 students in sixth, seventh, and eighth grade. The school has a student-teacher ratio of 17:1, matching the state’s average. GreatSchools.org gave the school an overall school rating of 1/10.

Compared to other schools in the district and the state, students at Dupont Middle performed worse in three of the common core subjects assessed. Only 23% of the students performed at or above grade level in English. The test scores for math and science were significantly lower, at 17% and 14% proficiency rates, respectively. 

Notably, the kids excelled in special programs such as Biology I, where 73% gained proficiency, higher than the state’s average of 60%. The performance of underserved students is worse than that of other students, with only 10% passing their state assessments. 84% of the student body comes from minority communities, and 64% are economically disadvantaged students. 

School grade sign showing 'F'
Although Alfred I. Dupont Middle School has consistently received a failing grade, efforts are being made to improve its educational standards and facilities.

©Matt Benoit/Shutterstock.com

Lake Shore Middle School 

2519 Bayview Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32210

Founded in 1955, Lake Shore Middle is an average-performing public school within the Duval County Schools District. It has an enrollment of 982 learners in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. The school offers a traditional curriculum with choice and in-house programs like the Jump Start Strings program. 

The State’s Department for Education gave the school an overall C rating. Students at the school perform far below the state average, resulting in Lake Shore’s inclusion in our list of the worst schools in Florida. Only 14% of the students attained proficiency in math. 

Furthermore, the students performed dismally in other core subjects, including English and science, where 18% and 16% of the students attained proficiency, respectively. GreatSchools.org gave the school an overall 1/10 rating, with Public School Review placing it in the bottom 50% for overall test scores. 

Around 80% of the learners at the school come from economically-disadvantaged households, and 29% are students with disabilities. The achievement gaps between low-income students and their peers are larger at the school, with the underserved students performing worse in state assessment tests. 

Lake Shore Middle also faces the challenge of high absenteeism rates among students with disabilities, with 43% being chronically absent. This is higher than the state average of 31%. Additionally, these students have higher suspension rates than their peers across the state. 

Matthew W. Gilbert Middle

1424 Franklin St, Jacksonville, FL 32206

Matthew W. Gilbert Middle is a public magnet school in Jacksonville under the Duval County Public Schools District. First opened in 1928 as a high school for Black students, the school is one of the oldest in the state. It transitioned to a middle school after integration and currently serves over 728 students in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. 

The student’s minority enrollment is 95%. Additionally, 85% come from economically disadvantaged families, while 22% are students with disabilities. The average performance of low-income students falls far below the state average, affecting the equality gap. The test scores for students with disabilities are much lower than their peers, while absenteeism rates are off the charts, with 53% chronically absent. 

The school falls under the bottom 50% of all middle schools in Florida for state assessment tests. Results from the 2021–22 school year show only 18% attained proficiency in English, against district and state averages of 47% and 53%. Additionally, only 23% and 8% of the learners achieved proficiency in math and science, respectively. 

Student looking at his term paper results with an "F"
With support from local organizations, schools like this have a chance to make progress and improve their results.

©Motortion Films/Shutterstock.com

Miami Carol City Senior High School

3301 Miami Gardens Dr, Miami Gardens, FL 33056

Miami Carol City Senior High School is a public high school within the Miami-Dade County Public Schools system. Founded in 1963, the school serves 927 ninth through 12th-grade learners. The school has an average of 57 full-time teachers, with one teacher for every 17 kids. 

Miami Carol City Senior High lags far behind the state average in critical college and career readiness measures. Of the 90% of students that graduate after four years, only 33% proceed to college or vocational training. Additionally, 30% of its graduates require remediation in college, higher than the state average of 21%. 

The school offers eight advanced placement courses, with only 11% participating. The participation rate is lower than the state average of 24%. Additionally, the student’s performance on college admission tests is less than stellar, with Miami Carol City having an SAT mean score of 860 and a composite ACT score of 15. 

The school’s performance in state assessments is poor, with test results for Geometry, Algebra I, Biology I, U.S. History, and English all falling below the state average. However, the school has a higher percentage of low-income students graduating than other schools across Florida. 

Notable Alumni

Although this school didn't rank high in academics, it still managed to produce some pretty successful alumni. Here are just a few of those noteworthy individuals:

  • Allen Hurns, NFL Football Player
  • Flo Rida, Rapper
  • Simeon Thomas, NFL Football Player

Liberty High School

4250 Pleasant Hill Rd, Kissimmee, FL 34746

Liberty High School, a public high school in Osceola County, Florida, near Kissimmee, serves ninth to twelfth-grade students. It is under the School District of Osceola County and has a student enrollment of 1,833. Liberty High also has a preschool section for families interested in kindergarten education. 

The school’s performance falls far below the district and state averages in college preparation and readiness. The school has an impressive graduation rate of 89%. However, only 43% of the graduates proceed to college, with 57% requiring remediation. 34% of the graduates require reading remediation, compared to a state average of 11%. 

Students at the school also struggle on state assessment tests. All core subject results, including Algebra I, English, Geometry, and Biology I, fall below the state’s average. Liberty High has an SAT mean score of 883 and an ACT composite score of 18. The U.S. News ranked the school at 13,164 in the 2022 National rankings out of 17,843 schools. 

The school has a minority population of 92%, with 55% of the learners being economically disadvantaged. An equity assessment of the school’s performance reveals that minority students perform worse than their peers. Besides, students from low-income families are at a higher risk of dropping out, with only 84% graduating compared to the school’s overall 89%.

Student looking at her term paper results with an "F" grade
Liberty High School is an example of one of the worst schools in Florida, with dismal academic performance. Improve your child's education by finding a better school option.

©Lucky Business/Shutterstock.com

DeSoto County High School

1710 E Gibson St, Arcadia, FL 34266

DeSoto County High School is the next school on our list of the worst schools in the state. The school serves ninth through twelfth-grade students and has a total enrollment of 1,291. It is within the School District of DeSoto County. 

GreatSchool.org awarded DeSoto County High a 1/10 overall rating. U.S. News ranked the school at 512-596th within Florida and 13,383-17,843 in national rankings. The school falls short on college preparatory metrics, resulting in poor ratings and rankings. 

The school’s four-year high school graduation rate of 86% is lower than the state’s average of 90. Additionally, only 32% of the graduates enroll in colleges or vocational training after graduating. 22% of the students require remediation in college. 

DeSoto County has four A.P. programs in which only 12% of the students participate. The average A.P. participation rate in the state is 24%. The average SAT score at the school is 886, and 18 for the ACT composite score. 

Gulf Coast State College

5230 US-98, Panama City, FL 32401

Gulf Coast State College is a public four-year college in the Florida College System. The school offers over 150 bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, and certificate programs. It is home to roughly 5,644 students

The school has a transfer rate of 11%. Only 29% of the students graduate after 150% of the normal completion time. This rate is lower than the national rate of 41.9%. Ten years after enrolling, Gulf Coast State College students earn $32,000, 6% lower than the national average of $34,300. 

15% of the students receive federal loans, with a median debt of $9,000 for graduates. 39% of students are actively repaying their debt.

Notable Alumni

This smaller college may not have academic acclaim, but it still has some pretty impressive alumni who excelled in athletics. Take a look at a few of those individuals:

  • Matt Foster, MLB Player
  • Terrance Gore, MLB Player
  • Vontrell Jamison, Former NFL Player
Close up picture of young brunette who looks tired and unhappy. How long girlfriend is going to stay in shower. Couple will be late if she do not hurry up. Maybe man should call friends and apologize
Despite having a transfer rate of 11%, Gulf Coast State College is one of the worst schools in Florida, with only 29% of students graduating after 150% of the normal completion time.

©Cookie Studio/Shutterstock.com

Trinity College of Florida

2430 Welbilt Blvd, Trinity, FL 34655

Trinity College of Florida is a private interdenominational bible college founded in 1932. The small institution is home to roughly 199 undergraduate students undertaking courses in Business, Psychology, and Religious Education. 

The school ranks within the lower 37% of all four-year colleges nationally. The percentage of students graduating after six years at the school is 27%, much lower than the national average. Only less than ten percent graduate within the stipulated four-year period. 

The average salary for Trinity College graduates ten years after enrolling is $31,700, 8% lower than the national median. Graduates’ average student loan debt is $24,500, with 38% actively repaying their loans. 

Edward Waters College

1658 Kings Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32209

Edward Waters College is a private Christian college in Jacksonville, FL. Founded in 1866 by the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the school is one of the oldest in the state. The school is a historically black university with roughly 2,273 students enrolled. Edward Waters College receives an overall 1/10 ranking from CollegeSimply. 

The school is ranked within the bottom 9% of colleges nationally. The school has an average graduation rate of 20% compared to a 41.9% national median. Less than 5% of the students earned a bachelor’s degree within four years, despite it being a four-year college. 

Post-graduate earnings of students who attended Edward Waters are also lower than the national median. The average salary ten years after enrolling at the school is $27,800 compared to the $34,300 national average. 87% of the students receive federal loans, with only 14% actively repaying them. 

 A worst signage.
Edward Waters College is ranked within the bottom 9% of colleges nationally and has an average graduation rate of 20%, with less than 5% of students earning a bachelor's degree in four years.


Discover The 13 Worst Schools In Florida

Learning in underperforming schools can significantly affect your child’s educational outcome. Lower proficiency rates can lead to lower opportunities for higher education, ultimately influencing their future median income. This post not only explored underperforming schools in the state but also highlighted disparities that contribute to poor performance. 

It’s essential to recognize that these rankings don’t solely define these schools. Understanding the underlying factors can help work towards bridging the gaps through educational reforms.

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