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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Any trends in Pinellas FCAT results?

As today's St. Petersburg Times story noted, third-grade FCAT scores statewide have stalled after years of steady, solid gains. But does anyone see any notable trends in Pinellas?

Overall, Pinellas rose two percentage points in reading (to 74 percent at or above grade level) but fell for a second year in math (also to 74 percent). District officials say they have to look more closely at the third grade data - and the fourth and fifth grade results coming later - to see what factors may be at play. They also cautioned that with the return to neighborhood zones, it's important to keep in mind that some schools have many more struggling students than they did a few years ago, and some have fewer.

A quick look at the 10 south Pinellas elementary schools that have re-segregrated the most shows a mixed bag. Fairmount Park and Gulfport, for example, tumbled in reading (down 17 and 11 percentage points, respectively). But Jamerson and Campbell Park took huge leaps (up 16 points and 11 points.) Overall, five showed gains in reading, four fell back and one stayed in place. In math, three went up, six went down and one stayed the same. Four went down in both subjects.

On the other hand, a quick look at nine of the elementary schools with the largest decrease in black students shows eight went up in reading and one went down. In math, four went up, two went down, three stayed the same. None went down in both subjects.

In case anybody tries to read too much into any of this, Woodlawn Elementary principal Karen Russell has a chart for you.

Woodlawn is among the rapidly resegregating schools. It's among the schools with the highest student turnover rates, topping 50 percent last year. It's also one of six Pinellas schools in the state RTI pilot project.

Yesterday's results show 47 percent of Woodlawn's third graders scored at Level 3, down 11 percentage points from last year's group. But they don't show this chart, which compares the same third graders' gains this year (according to other assessments) versus the rest of the district. The steep, green, third grade line shows how far behind that group was early in the year, and how much closer to the district average it was near the end.

"We took a struggling population and made incredible gains," Russell told The Gradebook this morning. "That's what tells the story."

[Last modified: Tuesday, July 13, 2010 10:07am]


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