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Lisa Cappucci teaches reading at Clair Mel Elementary School, where it has been one of longer days and a push to boost attendance, behavior and learning. (Jim Reed/TBO)

Rigorous response helped third-graders improve at Clair-Mel

June 16, 2015 - Points of Pride

Source: Erin Kourkounis | Tampa Tribune


As the school year has come to a close, most Clair-Mel Elementary School third-graders can now find the main idea in a story, write about it and back up their answers with facts.

They can multiply by 11s and 12s and have been introduced to fractions. They know what it’s like to dissect a starfish and a shark. 

It is the last day of school, and the classrooms at the Palm River-area school are filled with antsy children and tired teachers, ready for a break after a year of longer school days dedicated to improving the school’s lagging reading performance. 

Today marks the end of a year of transition for Clair-Mel — and for the rest of the Hillsborough County school district as well as Florida — to a series of new online tests aligned to a tougher set of learning goals based on the Common Core State Standards.

At Clair-Mel, there have been highs and lows as the staff worked to improve attendance, behavior and academics with an arsenal of initiatives that includes Saturday school, after-school tutoring, a before-school club for fathers and student incentives to reward good work. That’s all in addition to an extra hour of school each day as required by the state because of last year’s poor reading performance.

Student test scores on the Florida Standards Assessment in language arts and math will not be available until September. But one early indicator shows Clair-Mel’s hard work this year has paid off for the third grade, which last year had the lowest reading scores in the school.

Principal Rick Grayes learned last week that this year’s third-graders performed markedly better than last year’s on a national reading comprehension test, recording the biggest improvement in the school district.

The school’s third-graders ranked in the 51st percentile on the reading comprehension portion of the Stanford Achievement Test, a 15-point improvement over the 36th percentile ranking last year’s third-graders received.

“That’s a notable increase,” said Sam Whitten, district director of assessment and accountability.

Source: Erin Kourkounis | Tampa Tribune

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