|Keller's plan to shed its D grade|
|The Press - News|
|Written by Joel Addington|
|Wednesday, 12 October 2011 13:38|
The state handed Keller Intermediate School a two-letter grade drop last summer, making it a D school for the first time in 10 years. School principal Gail Griffis outlined Keller’s plans to regain its former B school label before the Baker County School Board the evening of October 3.
School principal Gail Griffis outlined Keller’s plans to regain its former B school label before the Baker County School Board the evening of October 3.
The drop came in part because insufficient numbers of low-performing students made reading gains on the 2011 Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT, administered last spring.
Ms. Griffis pointed to strategies like spending more time with struggling students after school and on weekends and more intensive monitoring of students identified as needing help.
The new, more rigorous version of the test, FCAT 2.0, rolled out this year didn’t help matters, either. Ms. Griffis compared the revamped assessment to continuous advancements in cell phone technology.
“It’s the next step up and now our students have to step up,” she aid.
While highlighting some of the goals documented in Keller’s 2011-12 School Improvement Plan for board members, the principal reviewed student performance in key FCAT measures used by the state to determine school grades.
Forty-two percent of the students who scored in the bottom quarter in reading in 2009-10 made improvement last spring, down from 46 percent the previous year. A smaller drop occurred for those students in math, falling from 56 percent in 2009-10, to 54 percent in 2010-11.
“We’re raising our goals again ...” said Ms. Griffis. “We looked at our previous history and said, ‘What are we capable of?’”
In the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years, the school garnered 500 points by adding up eight percentages: the share of students scoring a 4 or 5 on the reading, math, writing and science FCATs; the percentage who show improvement on the math and reading tests; and the percentage of low performing students who make gains in reading and math.
The goals for this year included a 2 percent rise in the percentage of students scoring high — a 4 or 5 — in reading and math, a 6 percent gain in high writing scores and a 4 percent gain in high science scores.
For students performing in the bottom quarter last year, the aim is to have 8 percent more improve their reading scores and 2 percent more improve their math scores.
The faculty hopes to increase the percentage of all students who make year-to-year progress, too, specifically 6 percent more in reading and 10 percent more in math.
In addition, Keller intends to boost the percentage of students school-wide who demonstrate proficiency, scoring a 3 or above, in reading and math. Seventy-two percent did so last spring in reading and 67 percent in math. The goal is to raise those measures by 4 percent and 2 percent, respectively.
One of the largest declines last spring came in the share of students receiving high scores on the FCAT writing test taken solely by fourth graders. The percentage of students scoring high dropped from 79 percent in 2009-10 to 69 percent in 2010-11, in part, to the state narrowing the definition of a high score.
High scores were considered a 3.5 or above on the FCAT’s 5-point scale until 2010-11. Partial scores were possible before then because each test was scored twice — receiving a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 — and then the two scores were averaged. The move last year to scoring each test once eliminated partial scores and high scores became 4 or 5.
Sixty-eight percent scored high in 2010-11 compared to 79 percent the previous year under the wider definition.
Keller faculty members hope to increase the level of high writing scores to 75 percent this year.
Ms. Griffis said her language arts teachers met last June with their counterparts at Westside and Macclenny elementary schools to develop a “common framework” for writing instruction. “Everyone needs to be teaching on the same page so the kids don’t get confused,” said the principal.
Other goals for the 2011-12 school year at Keller include:
• Raise the attendance rate from 94 to 95 percent.
• Reduce by 10 percent the number of students suspended and the number of in- and out-of-school suspension days.
The middle school earned another A grade from the state this year and the high school’s 2010-11 grade is expected this month.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 13 October 2011 13:16|