Hillsborough County's school district is celebrating the release Friday morning of FCAT writing scores that surpass the statewide averages for proficiency and, for the most part, lead the region.
Tested in grades 4, 8 and 10, Hillsborough's students showed proficiency rates of 65, 66 and 67.
Proficiency is defined as a 3.5 or better on a test is scored from 1.0 to 6.0.
Some schools improved more than others, with the district spotlighting these examples:
The 2013 FCAT writing results, as well as scores for third graders, are now posted on the Florida Department of Education website. You can review all the spreadsheets hereas we review them for trends.
Statewide, more than 37,000 third graders could be retained in third grade because they earned a Level 1 on the reading FCAT. Level 3 or above is considered proficient. In the Tampa Bay area, 5,507 third graders failed. Numbers ranged from 2,956 in
to 258 in
were about the same or slightly better than last year.
, 56 percent of third graders scored on grade level or above. That’s the same percentage as last year. In Hillsborough, 56 percent of third graders earned proficient scores, compared to 57 percent last year.
third graders were two percentage points up over last year, with 59 percent on grade level or above.
Hernando had the
area’s best reading scores, with 62 percent proficient or better this year compared to 59 percent last year. Statewide, 57 percent of third graders earned a Level 3 or better.
Commenting only after the deal was done, the Pasco County School Board this week gave permission for a cell phone tower to rise on the campus of Sand Pine Elementary School in Wesley Chapel.
The district has approved similar land leases for cell towers at Fivay High, Long Middle, Sunlake High and Gulf Trace Elementary in the past, with a goal of raising some added revenue to bolster its resources. The latest agreement calls for annual rent of $16,000 over 10 years, with four 5-year options to extend the lease. The rent would rise 4 percent each year, with an additional increase of $9,500 if a second tenant joins.
Over the course of 30 years, the lease is projected to bring the district $1 million.
In the past, such proposals have generated some small protests. Only one parent spoke out against the tower at Sand Pine, raising concerns that children's health might be at risk. One speaker supported the proposal, saying the area needs better cell phone coverage.
After the board unanimously approved the agreement, board member Allen Altman told the one parent in opposition that he appreciated the safety concerns raised, but that he had done enough research to not share those concerns.Full Story
CUTBACKS: The University of South Florida prepares to eliminate expendable degree programs.
PROM LESSONS: Pasco school district officials find that River Ridge High prom planners did not distribute the photo of a girl ahead of time to keep her out. The entire prom affair was filled with teachable moments if anyone had sought to teach them, columnist Sue Carlton writes.
SCIENCE CLASS: Some Palm Beach parents oppose cat dissections in their children's classes, the Sun-Sentinel reports.
A LITTLE HELP: The Citrus School Board turns to its employee union asking for acceptance of about $1 million in negotiable budget cuts, the Citrus County Chronicle reports. • Three Brevard schools have their last day of classes ever, Florida Today reports.
NO THANKS: The Palm Beach sheriff rejects an offer for his department to take over policing the school district, the Palm Beach Post reports.
SEARCHING: Polk's choice for superintendent withdraws from two other job searches to take the district's top job, the Ledger reports. • Lee board members remain unclear as to whether they'll have a national superintendent search, the Fort Myers News-Press reports. …Full Story
The year's first big release of FCAT results comes Friday.
The Florida Department of Education has announced it will put out scores for third grade FCAT reading and math, as well as for FCAT writing outcomes for fourth, eighth and tenth graders. The official numbers are scheduled to be posted on the department website around 10 a.m.
Already, though, the word spreading through Florida school districts is that the FCAT writing results for fourth graders, at least, look high -- even with the increased passing score of 3.5 (up from 3.0) and more stringent standards. In a conference call Wednesday with superintendents, department officials reported the strong scores and asked what districts did to foster success.
They did not provide more details, according to district officials who participated in the call.
A year ago, by contrast, state officials were scrambling to deal with poor writing results. They temporarily lowered the passing score to 3.0 soon afterward.
Commissioner Tony Bennett plans to visit Starkey Elementary School in Seminole on Friday to discuss the results in greater detail. In a YouTube video for parents, he said the rest of the FCAT scores should be made public by June 8.Full Story
Fairmount Park Elementary, one of five schools in Pinellas County facing state intervention, has posted a job advertisement looking for teachers. Maximo Elementary, another of the five, posted a similar advertisement earlier this month.
Teachers at the five schools have been asked to reapply for their jobs, if they want to stay for the 2013/14 school year, as part of a state-mandated turnaround plan. District officials selected the plan - called the district-managed turnaround option - which requires the selection of a new principal and the reassignment of teachers whose teaching can be linked to the poor performance of students. (How they do that is something to be debated.)
Union officials have said that teachers who were ranked effective or highly effective on their evaluations should, in most cases, be able to keep their jobs. Teachers with other ratings will interview. It's not clear yet if the job advertisements at Maximo and Fairmount Park are an indication that teachers have been forced out of the school or are leaving voluntarily. Requests for transfers were high at all five of the schools on the state's list.
See the job posting below:
The Pasco County school district administration has offered an additional list of areas it might cut spending next year in order to balance the budget. The School Board asked for the list on Tuesday, after learning that its projected shortfall had grown to $26.4 million.
Superintendent Kurt Browning suggested that, despite his distaste for the idea, using nonrecurring revenue sources to cover a portion of the gap might be the most painless solution. But board members shied away from that thought, saying that several years of tapping into those funds had brought the district to its current position, unable to sustain all its spending with its current revenue.
The staff supplied its proposals in time for a budget town hall meeting Wednesday evening. It included: …Full Story
READY? Tampa area schools have plans in place to deal with emergencies like the tornado that hit Moore, Okla.
PTA THEFT: The treasurer of the Weightman Middle School PTA is arrested on charges that she stole more than $5,000 from the organization.
CUSTOMER SERVICE: Hillsborough's food services department asks students to taste test possible new options for school cafeteria menus.
CHARTER DEBATE: Manatee district officials don't throw their full support behind a parent-led effort to convert a magnet school to charter status, the Bradenton Herald reports. • A Miami-Dade village will reconsider its rejection of a charter school application, the Miami Herald reports.
BUDGET CUTS: Citrus leaders explore budget cutting options including elimination of middle school sports, the Citrus County Chronicle reports. • Manatee's superintendent tries to make sure parents get enough information about his budget balancing efforts, the Bradenton Herald reports.
SCHOOL CLOSINGS: Brevard School Board officials defend their criteria for closing schools to city officials who suggest they should have more say in the process, Florida Today reports. …Full Story
The Pinellas County School District is getting ready to open the new Lew Williams Center for Early Learning in the 2013/14 school year.
The center, which will target children ages 1 to 4, is to open at pTEC St. Petersburg. The School Board approved Tuesday a new job description for an administrator - executive program manager - to oversee the center's daily operations. That job will need to be filled soon. District officials are submitting an application to the Department of Health in Pinellas County for a license to open. (The health department oversees childcare centers.) And renovations at pTEC St. Petersburg are expected to start June 1 and finish in mid-August.
The Lew Williams Project, as the district calls it, is an early childhood initiative named for board member Lew Williams who died unexpectedly in 2011. Williams, who owned a daycare, was passionate about early childhood education. …Full Story
St. Petersburg College is moving forward with plans to offer a $10,000 degree, the higher-ed version of a unicorn frolicking in the Fountain of Youth.
SPC was one of 23 state colleges in January to accept Gov. Rick Scott's "$10,000 Degree Challenge." Immediately questions arose as to how a college could slash the price tag without sacrificing the degree's quality.
At its board of trustees meeting Tuesday, SPC laid it bare: They're targeting students who are coming to SPC with credits already, and are willing to come to class fall, spring and summer semesters to crank out the work.
The college has identified 271 eligible high school seniors, and planned to send out invitations to a June 11 information and registration session yesterday afternoon. The college hopes for an initial class of 30 to 60 students, though may be able to accommodate more if interest is high.
To be eligible, students must enter with 12 to 15 accelerated credits (Advanced Placement, dual enrollment, etc). They must be full-time, continuously enrolled students who receive a "C" or better in all their classes. …Full Story
Repeating criticisms of his district's school choice options as lacking, Pasco superintendent Kurt Browning on Tuesday announced he would create a high-level task force to explore adding more education alternatives for students and parents.
The group will look at "magnets, K-8's, 9-14's — different options we need to provide" for families within the school system, Browning said.
The task force "will be working very hard over the next six to eight months," he told the School Board, with a plan of bringing recommendations to the board by January. The goal, he continued, was to have new options in place for the 2014-15 academic year.
Browning lamented that Gov. Rick Scott vetoed $1.5 million that would have helped the district create a STEM magnet school. But he said that rejection would not stand in the way of improving and adding to the choices that Pasco children deserve.
Thousands of Pasco children already attend charter schools, use home schools and take virtual courses. What suggestions would you offer the task force as it considers school choice ideas for Pasco?Full Story
DONE DEAL: The Hernando County School Board approves a contract for its new superintendent, Lori Romano.
MONEY ISSUES: Pasco district leaders reconsider whether to use nonrecurring funds to cover ongoing expenses. • Flagler paraprofessionals defend their positions against proposed budget cuts, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.
TIME TO TALK: Approved by the governor, money for raises to Florida teachers now must be negotiated locally, WTSP reports. • Alachua school employees win a raise and a bonus in negotiations, the Gainesville Sun reports.
CLEANING HOUSE: The Broward School Board approves cutting half the staff of its troubled facilities department, the Sun-Sentinel reports.
WAKE UP: A Broward teacher is suspended two days without pay for sleeping on the job, the Sun-Sentinel reports.
MUSICAL CHAIRS: Marion's new superintendent shuffles principals at more than a quarter of the district's schools, the Ocala Star Banner reports. • Miami-Dade plans to shake up its administrative staff, the Miami Herald reports.
COMING AT YOU: The Florida Department of Education plans a massive public information effort in support of the Common Core, State Impact Florida reports. …Full Story
At the same time Gov. Rick Scott prepared to sign Florida's 2014 budget, he delivered to school district superintendents some details on how to implement one of his top priorities in the budget -- raises for teachers.
In a lengthy Q&A document, the governor laid out that the raises are indeed salary increases and not one-time bonuses. The money must be used for raises and not other purposes, according to the guidelines, and the pay hikes "may" be based on performance.
School districts must send the state their plans for how they intend to allocate the funds, with the money to follow soon after -- as early as July if the district plan is submitted.
Read on for the full Q&A. …Full Story
Kelly King is the new principal of Steinbrenner High School.
The Hillsborough County School Board appointed King, now assistant principal for curriculum at Steinbrenner, to replace Brenda Grasso. Grasso was promoted recently to area director.
King joined the school district in 2001.Full Story
Officer Dan Carvin, a long-time school resource officer at Tyrone Middle School, will be honored by the Pinellas County School Board tonight for his dedication and service.
Carvin, who is a St. Petersburg police officer, has served at Tyrone Middle for 18 years. He has been selected as the district's School Resource Office of the Year. The School Board will celebrate his accomplishments during its 5:30 p.m. meeting at the district offices, 301 4th St, Largo.
Carvin was praised for his "persistence in counseling both students and parents" and his "relentless commitment to turn students around."Full Story