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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Struggling Pasco County elementary school makes 'baby steps' toward improvement



Hudson Elementary School principal Dawn Scilex told the Florida Board of Education this summer that she "absolutely" had what she needed to boost her F-rated school to a C grade this year.

As the second quarter of the year began, Scilex said Hudson is making strides, but slowly.

Students' attendance rate is up, closer to 96 percent with 153 having not missed a day, she said, while the number of discipline referrals has dropped. (Part of that is due to a new service program that has misbehaving students cleaning the campus and getting behavior lessons, rather than being suspended, she said.)

Student grade-level performance in some key academic areas, meanwhile, has dramatically risen.

The data chart on her office wall showed that nearly 80 percent of kindergarteners met their math targets, compared to 39 percent at the same time a year ago, for instance. Close to half of first graders were meeting or exceeding their English-language arts goals, compared to 24 percent a year ago.

At the same time, though, Scilex acknowledged, science performance dropped significantly, with some grade level percentages in the teens for meeting their expectations.

"We're seeing baby steps," Scilex said. "It's a slow process."

She had no doubt that her mostly hand-picked staff can get the job done.

"We hired the right people for this work," Scilex said, praising their effort and dedication. "The passion, I've never seen in my 20 years."

District officials are closely watching Hudson because if its model works, other schools might try similar things.

[Last modified: Thursday, October 27, 2016 3:21pm]


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