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Uneven results on reading tests

Published May 24, 2006

True to a statewide trend, Pinellas County middle school students are making big gains in reading.

Two out of three sixth-graders and just under two in three seventh-graders are reading at grade level or above according to Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores released Tuesday.

That's a 7 percentage point gain from last year, mirroring an 8-point jump statewide.

Seven schools posted seventh-grade gains of 12 percentage points or more.

Joan Minnis, principal at Thurgood Marshall Fundamental School in St. Petersburg, credited an initiative that paired students with a "go-to" teacher for her seventh-graders' 15 percentage point gain.

"It's phenomenal," Minnis said. "When we looked at our data this time last year, we knew this was the grade we had to put more effort into."

But the news in Pinellas wasn't all good.

The number of fourth-graders reading at grade level or above decreased 9 percentage points. Seventeen schools fell 15 percentage points or more, including 13 "A" schools.

Mardell Ammon, a director of elementary education, called the results "alarming."

Jan Rouse, associate superintendent for curriculum, said the district may need to look more closely at how struggling third-graders are promoted to fourth grade.

"We'll need to look at what's happening at each school," Rouse said.

[Last modified May 24, 2006, 04:43:57]

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