SOUTHWEST FLORIDA -- The Florida Department of Education released the preliminary school grades for the 2016-17 school year Wednesday, and many Southwest Florida schools are celebrating successes.
Among overall district grades, Collier County schools improved their district grade from a 'B' to an 'A', one of only 11 districts out of 67 to get a top grade.
Lee and Charlotte counties maintained 'B' grades in 2017, while Glades, Hendry, and DeSoto counties maintained 'C' grades overall.
Looking closer at the individual school grades, 24 Lee County schools earned 'A' grades, and 25 earned a 'B' out of 95 schools.
James Stephens International Academy earned the greatest success. The Title 1 school went from an F grade to a B, scoring it's highest grade since its inception.
"It's nice to get the high grade," said the school's principal Ken Savage. "Our success of going from an F to a B, that isn't what defines us," he added.
Savage has been the principal of James Stephens for one year. He attributes the student's academic success to their teachers, several of whom were hired last year after going half the year understaffed.
"They had 10 vacancies; 10 vacancies! So if you can imagine subs teaching classrooms," said Savage.
The school recently went from K-8 to K-5, which savage says has helped. He believes the school's first good grade is a sign of things to come.
"We're really excited about next year, because even though this is unprecedented, we're just getting started," said Savage.
In Collier County's 53 schools; 25 earned an 'A', and 15 earned a 'B'.
In Charlotte, 3 schools earned an 'A' and 10 earned a 'B' out of 19 schools.
Glades, Hendry and DeSoto counties had no schools earning an 'A'.