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County school officials celebrate FCAT scores

The test results show many of the public schools earn top grades, but some schools continue to struggle.

By TOM MARSHALL
Published June 15, 2006

BROOKSVILLE - Wednesday was report card day for Hernando public schools, and many of the district's 20 schools had reason to celebrate.

A dozen schools earned a grade of "A" in the state Department of Education's annual ratings of progress and achievement, and two others posted a grade of B.

All but one of Hernando's middle schools earned the top grade, while Fox Chapel Middle School held steady from last year with a B.

"I'm pretty happy, obviously," said Joe Clifford, the principal at West Hernando Middle School. "What we've been telling students is, when you work hard you get results. And we've worked hard."

But some schools in the district continue to struggle. Hernando High posted its second straight grade of "D." Both Central and Nature Coast Technical high schools earned a second year of "C" performances, and this year Springstead High School slipped from a "B" to join them.

At the elementary level, seven schools - Brooksville, Chocachatti, Eastside, John D. Floyd, Moton and Pine Grove - earned an A grade. Westside slipped from that level to a B, while Spring Hill and Deltona slipped from B to C.

The state's system for grading schools uses a point system to measure student achievement on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, along with students' annual improvements in reading and math.

Schools that improve by at least a grade or receive an A receive additional state funds, while parents in schools that fail for two years in a row have the option of moving their children to a higher-performing public school.

Of greater concern to the district might be its annual progress according to the federal government. According to the No Child Left Behind Act's test-based measure of adequate yearly progress, six schools - Deltona, Spring Hill, and all four high schools - fell short.

Under that standard, schools must make annual testing and graduation progress not just in the general student population, but in subgroups established for minority, disabled, limited-English and economically disadvantaged students.

None of the county's high schools made adequate yearly progress in terms of their graduation rate, which must improve by 1 percent annually under the federal standard. Nor did the schools make adequate progress in reading , which requires at least 44 percent of students in all subgroups to make a grade of proficient.

Under No Child Left Behind, schools that don't make adequate yearly progress for three years - which includes all high schools in the county except Springstead this year - must provide extra tutoring to students.

Schools that fall short two years in a row must also provide families with the option of alternative schools or programs.

But district officials chose to emphasize the positive Wednesday, praising the schools that raised their performance in the state ranking.

"I'm extremely pleased with the successes of our students and staff and recognize with tremendous appreciation the hard work put forth by everyone," said Superintendent Wendy Tellone in a prepared statement.

Tom Marshall can be reached at tmarshall@sptimes.com or 352 848-1431.

[Last modified June 15, 2006, 07:36:39]


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