There is more good news for the Gadsden County school district.
“We want to commend our administrators, teachers, parents and mostly our students,” Superintendent Reginald James said of this year’s scores on the FCAT testing.
James said students continued their trend of performing well in math, with 4th and 5th graders meeting and exceeding state performance averages.
The district’s 4th graders tied the state average at 63 percent, while 61 percent of Gadsden’s 5th graders scored at or above grade level and exceeded the state’s average of 56 percent.
James was very pleased that the trend continued through middle school with 6th, 7th and 8th graders exceeding their 2013 performances.
“The district saw significant improvement in 8th grade science,” he stated.
Something that will be a priority next year, James explained, would be reading.
The district saw declines in both 4th and 9th grade reading, which James stated was partly due to the transition to a new reading program in preparation for the new Florida Standards-based AIR examination in 2015.
James highlighted two schools which he said had done exceptionally well.
Havana Middle and Chattahoochee Elementary had historic performances that could lead to them earning “A” school grades for the first time.
“I can’t say enough about Chattahoochee Elementary,” James said of their FCAT performance.
James said the school struggled with FCAT grades, not being able to get higher than a “D.”
He praised the leadership of the school and the entire team led by principal Valencia Denson saying they will probably be an “A” this year.
James said there would be a parade if the school scored an “A” on the FCAT.
“Looks like there is going to be a parade,” he said.
This year the progress continued in math in the middle schools, and eighth grade science had a 15-point jump in scores.
“I am pleased with what is happening at Havana Middle School,” he said. “They have progressed across the board.”
Havana Elementary and Havana Middle will be combining in 2015 to form a K-8th grade school and this progress, James explained, will help with that transition.
He praised principal Delshauna Jackson and her staff, teachers, parents and students for helping reach the designation of a “High Performing School” (those with A or B grades).
“All of these overall scores,” he said, “will translate into some pretty nice school grades.”
James said he did not think there would be any failing school grades. The actual grades will come out next month. High school grades will not come out until the Fall.
This is the last year for FCAT testing. The state, including Gadsden County, will come under the new Florida Standard’s Test (FST).
Next year each district will test for a baseline for future testings.
James said there will be a transitional time shifting from the FCAT to the FST which is a national testing regimen referred to as “Common Core.”
He stated that he did not know at this point how this will be done as the state has just now started training.
The test will require that students be able to have a more in-depth understanding of subjects.
“It is a lot different than the FCAT and we are preparing,” he stated. “It’s a new era, we’ve gone through a lot of changes. They say common core testing will allow more flexibility for teaching. We look forward to the challenge.”
Each year the FCAT standards and testing became harder and harder, James stated. The last year of FCAT requires that a student make a 4 or higher, of a possible 6 points, to have a passing score.
“Our students have to be commended for making the adjustments over the years,” he said. “We’ve come a long way in testing, from a time when we couldn’t get an ‘A’ to a situation where ‘A’s’ are pretty common.”
If you would like to see this interview with Superintendent James, check our webpage at havanaherald.net or at https://vimeo.com/97750325.