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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

More Pinellas schools headed for more state oversight



Pinellas has more schools in the most dire category in the state's rating system than all but two other districts.

Gibbs High, Azalea Middle, Fairmount Park Elementary and Maximo Elementary, all in St. Petersburg, are now in the "intervene" category in the state's differentiated accountability system, according to information released by the state Department of Education Friday. That means they'll be under more state oversight, and subject to a series of changes designed to dramatically improve their academic performance.

Statewide, 27 schools fell into intervene this year. Duval had seven. Miami-Dade had five. Eleven other districts, including Hillsborough and Pasco, each had one.

Last year, the only Pinellas school in intervene was Gibbs.

Despite improving it grade from F to C, meeting more federal standards and making some of the biggest FCAT gains among Pinellas high schools last year, Gibbs still fell shy of moving up.

One hangup: FCAT points. Gibbs rose from 395 points (on the line between F and D) to 426 (a C is 435). But the exit criteria for intervene says it must earn 435. (The categories for differentiated accountability, better known as DA, are based on FCAT grades, not the new high school grades that include other variables.)

Another hangup: Subgroups. To exit intervene, a school must have at least one subgroup meet federal standards in both reading and math after not meeting them the year before. Both black students and students with disabilities at Gibbs cleared the federal hurdle in math, but fell short in reading.

"The intervene status is not an accurate assessment of the progress and success at Gibbs," principal Kevin Gordon told The Gradebook. "Like I've said before, we're always going to have room for improvement ... (another year in intervene) doesn't negate all the gains we made."

It's not clear yet what another year in intervene will mean for Gibbs in terms of state or district action. Or what that status will mean for Azalea Middle, Fairmount Park and Maximo.

The state requires all kinds of changes for schools in the bottom DA categories, especially for those in intervene. Many of the mandates for schools in intervene and "Correct II," the next most dire category, overlap.

Azalea, Fairmount Park and Maximo were in Correct II last year. But they'll have to do even more this year.

Among other changes with intervene schools (and you can read more here): They can't employ teachers designated less than satisfactory. The state participates in staffing. And the state assists the district in reviewing/hiring the principal and "will make recommendations to the district with respect to replacing members of the leadership team."

[Last modified: Monday, July 25, 2011 5:10pm]


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