Maybe the state knows what it's doing after all
As the dust settles from the latest round of school grades and FCAT scores, here's a nugget worth chewing on: The Pinellas schools under the most state scrutiny and oversight made some of the most noteworthy gains.
Woodlawn Elementary went from F to C. Lakewood and Fairmount Park elementaries moved from F to D. And three of the four oversight high schools - Boca Ciega, Gibbs and Dixie Hollins - led the other Pinellas high schools in FCAT gains. (The fourth, Lakewood, saw a slight decline in FCAT points.)
"I think the state was a big help to us," Gibbs principal Kevin Gordon told The Gradebook. Florida Department of Education officials helped the school "really start putting in a sound instructional delivery model. And then to have them behind us, to help push, 'okay, these are the things you need to be working on' " made a difference, he said.
The state played a supporting role, said Fairmount Park principal Cooper Dawson. "Initially we thought it was going to be them coming in and saying, 'You do this,' " she said. But "it was more of a let's look together, let's look at your data, where are you putting your efforts, what do you need from the district, what do you need from the state."
Clearly, one or two years does not make a trend. Clearly, the oversight schools have a long way to go. Clearly, the district also contributed support and resources. ("We had four people from the state (help), but we probably had 20 from the district," said Woodlawn principal Karen Russell.)
But so far, doesn't it look like the state - dare we say it? - is helping?