Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

In Pinellas, eight schools improve grades, 41 get lower grades

Principal Donita Moody knew Florida's system for grading schools was getting tougher this year, so she braced herself and hoped St. Petersburg's Westgate Elementary School wouldn't do any worse than the C grade it got last year.

Instead, Westgate's grade shot up from a C to an A — one of only two Pinellas schools with such an improvement, the other being Athenian Academy charter school in Dunedin.

"I was very surprised, I didn't expect that great of a jump," she said.

But most schools in Pinellas County didn't get to celebrate. The new tougher standards meant only eight schools improved their letter grades this year.

A total of 49 Pinellas schools kept the same letter grade as last year.

Plus, 41 dropped a letter grade — and a dozen of those would have plummeted even more if not for a state rule preventing more than a one-grade drop.

For example, three schools that got C grades last year — Belleair Elementary, Campbell Park Elementary and Tyrone Middle School — got D grades this year but would have scored an F without the rule preventing more than a one-grade drop, according to data provided by the school system.

John Hopkins Middle School got a B last year and a C this year, but would have dropped to an F this year without that rule.

Because of tougher FCAT-grading standards that took effect last year, teachers and administrators knew the schools would have to achieve more for the same grade and that some school grades would likely suffer.

"On the whole we knew that we would experience these kinds of changes,'' said Bill Lawrence, Pinellas associate superintendent for teaching and learning.

School Board member Terry Krassner said it was hard to assess what the new grades mean because FCAT has often changed so that it has "always been like comparing apples to oranges." She said she wished every student took the same test for their grade level every year to provide a more consistent assessment.

Lawrence said schools are working to focus "on the delivery of quality instruction to our students and not so much the changes to the formulas." He said teachers and administrators want to form a bond with students and parents that "transcends a single test or letter grade."

There were bright spots in the new grades — 32 A schools from last year got A grades again, in spite of the new standards. On the flip side, two F schools got F grades again.

The grade for the Imagine Charter School in St. Petersburg slid from D to F, less than two months after Pinellas schools superintendent John Stewart warned that continued academic problems could result in closing the school.

"Our school is much greater than that grade," principal Angela Prince said. She said her school uses several measures of performance, and she can see students are benefitting.

"This school has really struggled but I think in the midst of that we've made some major changes and great strides," she said. Asked if the grade was a setback, she said, "Absolutely not … it just feeds the energy to even do better."

Because of the F grade and the school's past academic performance, Lawrence said, it's likely the School Board will discuss the Imagine School soon.

In Pinellas, eight schools improve grades, 41 get lower grades 07/11/12 [Last modified: Thursday, July 12, 2012 12:06am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. North Korean missile launch may be testing rivals, not technology

    World

    SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea's latest missile test Monday may have less to do with perfecting its weapons technology than with showing U.S. and South Korean forces in the region that it can strike them at will.

    A woman watches a TV screen showing a file footage of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday,. North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile that landed in Japan's maritime economic zone Monday, officials said, the latest in a string of test launches as the North seeks to build nuclear-tipped ICBMs that can reach the U.S. mainland. [AP Photo/Lee Jin-man]
  2. PolitiFact: Fact-checking Samantha Bee on Florida felonies

    State Roundup

    Comedian Samantha Bee traveled to Florida, where she says "retirees and democracy go to die," to shed light on how the state makes it difficult for felons to regain the right to vote.

    Samantha Bee hosts Full Frontal with Samantha Bee on TBS. Bee portrayed some of Florida’s felonies as not so serious on her show.
  3. For some, Memorial Day comes around more than just once a year

    Military

    ST. PETERSBURG — It is shortly before nine on a Friday morning, and the heat is already approaching unbearable levels at Bay Pines National Cemetery.

    Iles carefully digs up the St. Augustine grass so that it will continue to grow when it is placed back on the gravesite. He tries not to disturb the root base.
  4. State budget uncertainty has school districts 'very concerned'

    K12

    While waiting for Gov. Rick Scott to approve or veto the Legislature's education budget, the people in charge of school district checkbooks are trying hard to find a bottom line.

    It has not been easy.

    The unsettled nature of Florida’s education budget has left school districts with questions about how they will make ends meet next year. [iStockphoto.com]
  5. Ernest Hooper: Removing Confederate symbols doesn't eliminate persistent mindset

    Human Interest

    The debate has begun about removing a Confederate statue from outside the Hillsborough County Courthouse, and its removal is long overdue.

    Robert E. Lee Elementary, 305 E. Columbus Drive in Tampa, originally opened its doors in the early 1910s as the Michigan Avenue Grammar School. [Times file]