Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas dropout prevention foresees fewer overage students

To continue boosting graduation rates, the Pinellas school district is taking a closer look at a particular group of at-risk kids: overage students in middle schools.

The district has more than 3,200 such students — a number it would like to see significantly reduced.

"Our goal is to have little or no kids" who are overage in middle school, said Dee Burns, who heads dropout prevention.

Many of those students do not appear to be struggling, according to the district's most recent data. But for those who are, school leaders say they are taking more aggressive action sooner.

"The focus is to intervene as early as possible so we don't have students who are getting into high school or close to their graduation year going, 'Oh my gosh, I'm not going to make it,' '' Burns told the Pinellas County School Board this week.

A typical sixth grader comes in at age 11 and leaves at 12. The district considers a sixth grader overage if he or she is 13 or older, or turning 13 or older by year's end.

Four middle schools have more than 200 overage students: Pinellas Park Middle, Morgan Fitzgerald Middle in Largo and Bay Point Middle and John Hopkins Middle in St. Petersburg. Several others have nearly that many.

Some of those students were held back in earlier grades, and many studies suggest they are at greater risk of dropping out. More specifically, some were snared by Florida's third-grade retention policy, which went into effect in 2003 and requires that students be held back if they score poorly on the reading portion of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

Last school year, Pinellas district officials began sending middle school principals more frequent and detailed information about the overage students in their schools. They noted how many were special education students, and how many had grade point averages below 2.0.

"It is a proactive tool, so we can identify and support kids who may potentially be in jeopardy," said Stephanie Adkinson, the principal at Tyrone Elementary in St. Petersburg.

Data this week showed 652 of 3,258 overage middle school students had GPAs below 2.0 for the last six-week grading period before winter break.

The district plans to incorporate that data into a new tracking strategy for middle school students that mimics what is already happening in high schools. School officials credit that plan for gains in the graduation rate two years in a row.

Some of the data is fuzzy.

It's unclear, for example, how many overage middle school students entered kindergarten a year later because parents thought they were too young. It's also unclear how many special education students, who make up 44 percent of overage middle school students, are on a path to standard diplomas and how many to special diplomas.

It's not a given that overage students are tanking, even those who have been retained. The state's third-grade retention policy mandates intervention for held-back students. And studies by both the Legislature's research arm and an independent researcher show those students score higher in subsequent years than similar students promoted through loopholes in the law.

Ron Matus can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8873.

Pinellas dropout prevention foresees fewer overage students 01/23/10 [Last modified: Saturday, January 23, 2010 12:35am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Empire' star Grace Byers keynotes USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy luncheon

    Human Interest

    BY AMY SCHERZER

    TAMPA — The first University of South Florida graduate to address the USF's Women in Leadership & Philanthropy supporters, Grace Gealey Byers, class of 2006, centered her speech on her first name, turning it into a verb to share life lessons.

    Grace Byers, University of South Florida Class of 2006, stars on the Fox television show Empire. She delivered the keynote at the USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy luncheon Friday. Photo by Amy Scherzer
  2. Southeast Seminole Heights holds candlelight vigil for victims' families and each other

    News

    TAMPA — They came together in solidarity in Southeast Seminole Heights, to sustain three families in their grief and to confront fear, at a candlelight vigil held Sunday night in the central Tampa neighborhood.

    A peaceful march that began on east New Orleans Avenue was held during the candlelight vigil for the three victims who were killed in the recent shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa on Sunday, October 22, 2017.
  3. It's not just Puerto Rico: FEMA bogs down in Florida, Texas too

    HOUSTON — Outside Rachel Roberts' house, a skeleton sits on a chair next to the driveway, a skeleton child on its lap, an empty cup in its hand and a sign at its feet that reads "Waiting on FEMA."

    Ernestino Leon sits among the debris removed from his family’s flood-damaged Bonita Springs home on Oct. 11. He has waited five weeks for FEMA to provide $10,000 to repair the home.
  4. McConnell says he's awaiting Trump guidance on health care

    STERLING, Va. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday he's willing to bring bipartisan health care legislation to the floor if President Donald Trump makes clear he supports it.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s “not certain yet” on what Trump wants.
  5. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series

    Ml

    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.