Sunday, December 17, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: School innovations boost performance

Finding ways to rescue failing public school students requires innovation. And for the second year in a row, Pinellas County schools are trying a new approach. The district's six-week summer Algebra Boot Camp will target ninth grade students who struggle with math and should give them a better chance of success. But the district also needs to consider broader changes during the school year that could reduce this need for remediation.

The new math boot camp is targeting incoming high school freshman who will take Algebra 1 in the fall. Last year, only 34 percent of ninth graders passed the end-of-course algebra exam, a requirement for graduation, far below the statewide average of 52 percent. The passage rate was even lower for Pinellas students who took algebra in higher grades. Under the boot camp curriculum, each student would spend three hours a day studying algebra with a combination of teacher and computer instruction. Organizers want at least 25 students from each of Pinellas' 17 high schools to participate, especially those who performed poorly on the math section of the FCAT. The program is also open to all ninth graders who have not taken Algebra 1.

The boot camp comes on the heels of Summer Bridge, a program launched last year to engage low-performing elementary and middle school students during the summer, when learning loss typically occurs. More than 6,000 students eventually signed up for the program, which focused on reading, writing, math and science. According to the district, 217 Summer Bridge students in kindergarten to third grade were promoted to the next grade level. Another 53 percent showed improvement in reading. And more than 70 percent of elementary students posted gains in math and science. Already, 5,000 students have signed up for this summer's program.

Raising the skill level of underperforming students is hard work. But with attention and commitment, struggling students can improve. And under Superintendent Mike Grego, the Pinellas County School District is taking another step in the right direction by focusing on students with a demonstrated need in a single subject area and setting them up for success. That remediation is crucial to individual students and parents, and students should avail themselves of the opportunity. But the district should also not forget to consider if other changes in instruction earlier in students' careers could improve success.

Comments

Editorial: Warren’s smart approach on guns, domestic violence

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren would make it safer for victims and police alike with his plan to remove firearms from defendants charged with domestic violence. These cases are toxic enough, and having guns at the ready only adds to a dang...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

The St. Petersburg City Council made the difficult but correct decision this week to reject the proposed sale of a local nonprofit’s minority stake in Bayfront hospital. Despite months of negotiations, there were too many questions, a few suspicions ...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Here’s a snapshot of misplaced priorities in Washington. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission foolishly rushed to scrap net neutrality rules and allow internet service providers to treat different content differently despite overwhelming ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

With misconduct allegations rippling through all levels of government, Gov. Rick Scott has taken the prudent step of ordering uniform sexual harassment policies throughout state agencies. The executive order strengthens protections for victims, which...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

For three years, the only news about finances at Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry was bad news: "Struggling MOSI asks Hillsborough County for $400,000 loan," one headline read, "Audit sees MOSI finances slipping," read another, and "MOSI donor ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Published: 12/14/17

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17