Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Education

Low algebra scores lead to summer 'boot camp' for Pinellas ninth-graders

Pinellas is launching its second new summer program in as many years, targeting hundreds more students atop the thousands already enrolled in summer learning.

Dubbed "Algebra Boot Camp," the six-week summer program will enroll incoming freshmen at each of Pinellas' 17 high schools who are signed up to take Algebra 1 in the fall.

Last year, only 34 percent of ninth-graders passed the algebra end-of-course exam — significantly below the state average of 52 percent. Under state law, students can't graduate without passing Algebra 1.

The new summer program, which aims to enroll 25 students at every high school in its first year, takes a proactive approach to the low pass rate by trying to ensure students are ready for coursework on the first day.

Superintendent Mike Grego said Pinellas has submitted the initiative to the Florida Department of Education, as well as a funding request of "a few million dollars" to help cover the cost.

"They're looking at Pinellas County to have us think about ways to help the rest of the state," said Grego, indicating the boot camp might become a statewide program.

Dwayne Hinds, the executive director of middle school education, described 8 to 11 a.m. days at centers where students will work on computers and with teachers. Students will take assessments to "prescribe a plan for that student," Hinds said. "It's almost personalized, in some ways."

Pinellas will pursue the program regardless of state funding, Hinds said. "It's in the best interest of students and will allow our students to be successful."

The nearly 500 students expected to enroll will have scored a 1 or 2 out of a possible 5 on the math section of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. However, Hinds said, the program is open to all students entering the ninth grade who have yet to take Algebra 1.

Districtwide, the end-of-course exam pass rate for algebra is 50 percent, lifted by a 96 percent pass rate among seventh-graders and a 91 percent pass rate among eighth-graders.

While the ninth-grade pass rate is low, students who attempt the end-of-course exam in 10th grade are even less successful, with a pass rate of 19 percent, according to district numbers. (The state puts the 10th-grade pass rate at 25 percent.)

Hinds said he is working closely with principals and expects they'll receive lists of students to target for the programs in the next few days.

The district already has registered more than 5,000 students for Summer Bridge, an initiative launched by Grego last year to curb summer learning loss.

Pam Moore, associate superintendent of teaching and learning, said the head count was on target for Summer Bridge, which had more than 6,000 students show up last year.

"For this time of the year, that's a really encouraging number, and we're going to massively hit schools after FCAT with advertising and letters," Moore said.

About 3,600 of the registered Summer Bridge students are in elementary grades.

Comments
Sheriff: Weeki Wachee High student posted fake school shooting threat

Sheriff: Weeki Wachee High student posted fake school shooting threat

WEEKI WACHEE — A 16-year-old was arrested Tuesday on allegations that she created a fake social media post threatening to shoot students at Weeki Wachee High School, according to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.Deputies said the 16-year-old told...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Hillsborough school district, teachers move closer to pay deal

Hillsborough school district, teachers move closer to pay deal

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District and its teachers’ union moved closer to resolving their salary dispute during Monday’s negotiating session — but stopped short of reaching an agreement.The teachers, who have spent this school year work...
Published: 05/21/18
Updated: 05/22/18
Parents score victory in effort to make travel safer for Westchase students

Parents score victory in effort to make travel safer for Westchase students

TAMPA — Hillsborough County school leaders call it courtesy busing, but to Lauren Hawkins it’s more a matter of life and death.More students living close to their schools in the Westchase community used the Hillsborough school district’s courtesy bus...
Published: 05/21/18
Eckerd College hosts a royal celebration of its own

Eckerd College hosts a royal celebration of its own

A day after England’s royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, St. Petersburg hosted a royal celebration of its own. Among the estimated 500 graduates to receive an Eckerd College diploma at Sunday’s graduation ceremony held...
Published: 05/20/18
Updated: 05/21/18

Hooper: SEL lends a solution to the increasingly toxic world of kids

An incident recently arose between students at Jesuit High School and Academy of the Holy Names that involved allegations of cyberbullying, homophobia, misogyny and assault.It only involved a fraction of the students at two of Tampa’s most prestigiou...
Published: 05/19/18
Updated: 05/22/18
At vigil, another school mourns: ‘It is hope in the face of tragedy that brings us together today.’

At vigil, another school mourns: ‘It is hope in the face of tragedy that brings us together today.’

SANTA FE, Texas - They gathered here by the dozens Friday evening, wearing their school colors, T-shirts that said "Texas Tough," while huddling under the shade of a gaggle of pine trees, not 11 hours after the first shots were fired.They came to pra...
Published: 05/19/18
‘I always felt it would eventually happen here’: A Santa Fe High School survivor’s reaction to the shooting

‘I always felt it would eventually happen here’: A Santa Fe High School survivor’s reaction to the shooting

Paige Curry tried to keep calm Friday morning as a gunman tore through her Santa Fe High School, eventually killing 10 people and injuring another 10. The 17-year-old watched as a girl nearby panicked. Curry, herself terrified, considered running out...
Published: 05/19/18
Class of 2018: Meet the valedictorians and salutatorians for Pinellas private high schools

Class of 2018: Meet the valedictorians and salutatorians for Pinellas private high schools

Before they could get away, we asked the top graduates at Pinellas County’s private schools to write a Twitter-length paragraph about what’s on their mind. We suggested they reflect on the past or the future, or talk about the people who helped them ...
Published: 05/18/18
Class of 2018: TBT’s Anita Morgan rises above abuse to thrive

Class of 2018: TBT’s Anita Morgan rises above abuse to thrive

TAMPA — For those who fear there is no hope, or help, or heart left in this world, there is the story of Anita Morgan.There are any number of life-wrenching places to begin …In the middle of the night, in the back of a police car, cruising over the b...
Published: 05/18/18
Class of 2018: TBT’s Anita Morgan rises above abuse to thrive

Class of 2018: TBT’s Anita Morgan rises above abuse to thrive

TAMPA — For those who fear there is no hope, or help, or heart left in this world, there is the story of Anita Morgan.There are any number of life-wrenching places to begin …In the middle of the night, in the back of a police car, cruising over the b...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18