Grades are in for local elementary schools
By Carrie A. Mizell
School grades are pending for Gilchrist County high schools, but scores are in for both Trenton and Bell elementary schools.
Trenton Elementary School earned an “A,” while Bell Elementary School dropped to a “B” for 2009-2010.
While BES exceeded the necessary points required to earn the distinction of being an “A” school, the school dropped to a “B” because less than 50 percent of the school’s lowest quartile of students failed to make adequate gains. At BES, 46 percent of the school’s lowest 25 percent of students made learning gains in reading, which dropped the school’s score.
According to Ronda Parrish, director of educational services for the Gilchrist County School District, 525 points or more are required for elementary schools to earn an “A” school grade. BES earned a total of 563 points, which shows that the drop in the school’s grade can only be attributed to less than 50 percent of the lowest quartile of students making what is considered by the state to be significant gains.
Sherry Lindsey, principal of Bell Elementary School, said that BES is proud of the overall scores the school received. In particular, Lindsey pointed out the school’s math scores, which showed that 88 percent of students met high standards for math, and 76 percent of the lowest 25 percent of students made learning gains in math.
“Understanding we had enough points for an “A,” it was disappointing to drop to a “B,” Lindsey said. “The dedication and work ethic that our teachers demonstrate daily is not captured in this grade.”
The principal added that school officials are now in the process of developing an action plan to address the area of concern for the 2010-11 school year.
“The goal for Bell Elementary School is to get our “A” back for the 2010-2011 school year,” Lindsey continued.
Trenton Elementary School earned 585 total points, which translated to an “A” district grade for the 2009-2010 school year. After hearing that TES had once again garnered an “A,” Principal Riley Deen acknowledged how proud the school’s administration and faculty are of the effort made by students.
“The students’ performance on the FCAT resulted in a resurgance of upwardly mobile scores,” Deen said. “Our students surpassed our School Improvement Goals in reading and in math, where our fourth grade students reached a pinnacle of success with the highest Developmental Scale Scores in school history, and our lowest quartile students in reading performed admirably.”
As for the upcoming 2010-2011 school year, Deen said school faculty and staff plan to sustain and hopefully surpass the 2009-2010 year’s student performance.
In receiving the school grades, Superintendent Don Thomas acknowledged that Gilchrist County is now the second highest-ranking school district in the state of Florida, falling just one point behind St. Johns County, which is the number one district.
“We continue to have high expectations in our schools,” Thomas said. “We push our administrators, teachers, students, and staff to work hard. We can see the results of all of the hard work when we received scores like these.”
Thomas said the school district’s scores illustrate that Gilchrist County School District is teaching students the foundational academic skills they need to be successful in life.
Thomas continued, “It represents the philosophy we have in the district that we want all of our students to achieve and do great things.”
According to Parrish, high school grades for Trenton High School and Bell High School should be released sometime in November. Currently, the grades are listed as pending because the high school grade calculation has changed this year.
“Our two high schools are called combination schools (include middle school grade levels and high school grade levels),” Parrish explained. “Combination schools similar to Gilchrist County are now calculated in a way that FCAT results only count for 70 percent of the school grade. The other 30 percent is calculated based on various other categories like graduation rate, the percentage of students who are accelerated (offered more challenging coursework like dual enrollment) and the percentage of students who meet college readiness standards upon reaching college.”