Pinellas' Transformation Zone schools see growth on Florida Standards Assessment exams
Florida Standards Assessment results have been long anticipated by the staffs of eight elementary schools in the Pinellas County school district’s Transformation Zone, which are pushing to increase the percentage of students with a passing score of three or higher. These schools, all of which have track records of low performance, have a longer school day, teacher pay incentives and receive extra support.
High Point Elementary near the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport saw the largest growth and eclipsed the other schools with high test scores: up from 34 percent to 40 percent in third grade, 25 percent to 43 percent in fourth grade and 16 percent to 30 percent in fifth grade. St. Petersburg’s Maximo and Campbell Park elementary schools also saw consistent growth across all grade levels, while other schools’ scores increased in some grades and decreased in others.
Midtown Academy in St. Petersburg, a failed charter school that was converted into a district-run school last year, saw double-digit decreases in third and fifth grade, with just 4 percent of fifth graders passing compared to 32 percent from last year.
Math was Midtown Academy’s strong suit. The school made huge gains across every age grade, especially in fifth grade – 33 percent of students passed compared to 4 percent last year. Melrose Elementary in St. Petersburg along with Maximo and Campbell Park also saw consistent growth across all grade levels on the math exam.
The rest of the schools had a mixed bag of results in math, but none were as erratic as Sandy Lane Elementary in Clearwater, which had its third grade scores drop from 53 percent in 2016 to 27 percent and its fifth grade test scores went from 49 percent to 20 percent. Sandy Lane's passing rate for fourth grade increased from 19 percent to 42 percent.
Sandy Lane principal Tzeporaw Sahadeo was approved Tuesday as the district’s next Transformation Zone director. That position was created in December 2015 and filled by Antonio Burt, who resigned in May for personal reasons.
As a whole, Pinellas's proficiency rate two percentage points to 52 percent in grades 3 through 10 on the English Language Arts exam. The county tied for second best with Hillsborough among Tampa Bay school districts, behind Pasco at 55 percent, but still lagged behind the state rate of 54 percent.
In math, Pinellas increased from 57 to 58 percent and again was second-best in Tampa Bay behind Hernando with 61 percent. They fell short of meeting the state average rate of 59 percent.
Pinellas dropped two percentage points to 53 percent on the fifth grade science exam, still ahead of the statewide average of 51 percent which did not change since last year. The district dropped one percentage point to 50 percent in eighth grade science which mirrors the state average, and its rate increased one percentage point on the Biology 1 end-of-course exam to 62 percent, falling short of the state average of 63 percent.