Published: Oct 21, 2010 6:54 PM EDT
Updated: Oct 21, 2010 3:54 PM EDT

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. - Edison Collegiate High School in Punta Gorda got its first report card and earned an A grade.

Edison Collegiate High easily met the standard for top honors with 628 points. The Florida School Recognition Program requires 525 points for an A with the grading system based on students’ FCAT results compared to their previous year.

“Incredible; and in our first year, which I think is wonderful,” ECHS Principal Diane Juneau said. “One of the things I’m most proud of is that our teachers didn’t prep for the FCAT. They taught with the sole focus on learning, both knowledge and skills. So I think this really reinforces the fact that our teachers are teaching what they’re supposed to and through the proper techniques.”

ECHS sophomores took the Reading and Math portions of the FCAT as freshman last year, scoring among the top in the state in both categories. A staggering 98 percent met high standards in Math with 85 percent meeting high standards in Reading.

ECHS students also saw a 74 percent learning gain in Reading and an 87 percent learning gain in Math from their eighth-grade FCAT scores. Sophomore Carlos Maas scored 100 in Reading, while fellow sophomore Wyatt Hoffman scored 100 in Math.

“The teachers put so much effort into making sure we’re the best we can be,” Maas said. “I would’ve been shocked if we weren’t an A school.”

The scores for ECHS’s Writing (89) and Science (41) were based on the Charlotte County average since ECHS students won’t take those portions of the FCAT until their sophomore and junior years.

For receiving an A grade ECHS will receive $7,468 ($74.68 per Full Time Equivalent student) from the Florida School Recognition Program. As specified in statute, schools must use their awards for one or any of the following: nonrecurring faculty and staff bonuses, nonrecurring expenditures for educational equipment and materials, or temporary personnel to assist in maintaining or improving student performance.

“To earn an A grade in its first year is tremendous,” Edison State College Charlotte Campus President Dr. Patricia Land said. “Those students are absolutely wonderful and such a delight; I’m extremely proud of them. This A is a tribute to the success of the early college philosophy and the staff who are committed to the small school environment.”

Maintaining an A grade is a challenge as improvement from the previous year is a factor, but Juneau and the rest of the ECHS staff are eager for the challenge.

“This is a very driven student body in their interests and their talents,” Juneau said. “The challenge to the faculty is to take the kids where they are and develop the skills they need to be honors students.”

As the only charter school in Charlotte County, ECHS is free to attend with no GPA or test score requirements for admittance. All students that apply are entered into a random drawing and 100 applicants are selected for each class, with a randomized waiting list generated.

“A lot of people think charter schools are elite and you have to pay to go to them,” Juneau said. “But that’s not the case. Everyone can apply and we encourage it.”

Students of ECHS also have the ability to graduate with an associate’s degree from Edison State College at no additional cost.