Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Nine Pinellas high schools' FCAT grades drop

After receiving D's from the state for four of the last five years, Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg has dropped to an F, based on scores released Thursday by the Florida Department of Education.

Nine other Pinellas high schools also received bad news as well, dropping one letter grade from last year. Dunedin High School received its first D. Countryside and Pinellas Park high schools slipped back to D's after four years of better grades. Only St. Petersburg Collegiate High, a charter school, earned an A.

"We're going to have to find out exactly what happened because this is very troubling," said superintendent Julie Janssen. "Where the high schools struggled most was with the lowest 25 percent of their students. They just couldn't seem to get them up enough this year."

Pinellas high schools may have fared poorly on this year's Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test because the district removed some reading coaches, said Barbara Thornton, an associate superintendent in charge of high schools.

The district will have to add reading coaches next year or make other improvements because the state is requiring more help for struggling schools.

The big challenge, Thornton said, will be developing critical thinking skills.

"We see that they can read," she said. "We're going to have to start looking at different ways to help them grapple with higher order thinking rather than just reading and answering questions on the test."

Pinellas Park High School principal John Johnston agreed that students' needs extend beyond simply learning to read better.

"We need to make sure that students are able to identify main ideas and predict outcomes," Johnston said. "We need to work on strategies that are directly related to the FCAT itself."

The drop in Pinellas high school scores reflected a statewide trend, which saw the number of A's decrease by nearly 50 percent and the number of D's increase from 70 to 116.

Overall, 106 high schools earned a lower grade because they failed to improve scores among the lowest-performing students, compared with 78 schools last year.

In Pinellas, 10 high schools lost a letter grade for that reason. Among them: East Lake and Palm Harbor University high schools, both of which would have earned A's, and Osceola, Seminole, and St. Petersburg high schools, which would have earned B's.

Gibbs High was the least successful in making gains among the lowest-performing 25 percent, which contributed to the school's F grade. While the school missed a D by only 1 point, Janssen said there is much work to be done there.

She recently moved former principal Antelia Campbell to Largo Middle School and brought in Kevin Gordon, a former assistant principal at Clearwater High.

Once again, the district and many of its schools failed to meet federal standards for adequate progress under the No Child Left Behind law. It requires continuous gains in minority, low-income and special-needs groups.

But the news wasn't all bad. Seven elementary schools — Bardmoor, Belleair, Lynch, Lealman Avenue, Pinellas Central, San Jose and Skyview — went from a C to an A. Woodlawn Elementary, where more than four out of five students qualify for free or reduced-price meals, improved from a D to a B.

"The students' two areas of need were math and writing," incoming Woodlawn principal Karen Russell said. "The teachers wrote their own mathematics curriculum this year with the help of district staff developers, and they really focused on the writing."

Next year, Russell said, students and staff at the school will look forward to receiving money from the state for improving their school grade.

"We're going to make sure the teachers are recognized for their effort and the children are rewarded for theirs," Russell said.

Times staff writer Ron Matus and researcher Connie Humburg contributed to this report.

Nine Pinellas high schools' FCAT grades drop 06/18/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 24, 2009 11:14am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Shakeup on Adam Putnam campaign


    In a sign of unsteadiness for what  had  looked like a strong-out-of-the-gate Adam Putnam campaign, the Republican frontrunner suddenly fired his campaign manager and political director. Hard-charging Campaign manager Kristin Davis and political director Jared Small were two of the three outsiders to join …

    Putnam campaigning in Destin the other day as part of his 22-city bus tour
  2. Rays let early lead get away again in loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — As pleased as the Rays were to win consecutive series against the contending Red Sox, Indians and Yankees and to get briefly back over .500, there was a lot of talk in the clubhouse before Monday's game against the Angels that it was time to do better.

    Tampa Bay Rays third base coach Charlie Montoyo (25) high fives designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) as he rounds third on his lead off home run in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Monday, May 22, 2017.
  3. Tampa man arrested for killing man in his USF-area home


    TAMPA — A Tampa man was arrested Monday in the death of man found killed at a home in the University of South Florida area last week, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

    Kadeem Dareem Archibald, 26, was arrested Monday on a  second degree murder charge in the University Area killing of Khando Kerr. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Report: Trump asked intel chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence


    President Donald Trump asked two of the nation's top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, the Washington Post reports, citing current and former officials.

    From  left, CIA Director Mike Pompeo; Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats; and National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers take their seats on Capitol Hill on May 11 before  testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on major threats facing the U.S. [Associated Press]
  5. For Gov. Rick Scott, 'fighting' could mean vetoing entire state budget

    State Roundup

    Every day, Gov. Rick Scott is getting a lot of advice.

    The last time a Florida governor vetoed the education portion of the state budget was in 1983. Gov. Bob Graham blasted fellow Democrats for their “willing acceptance of mediocrity.”