Third grade students in Hillsborough County Public Schools made one of the biggest jumps in the state among large school districts for the spring 2017 FSA English Language Arts Assessment. The Florida Department of Education shared this exciting news when they released the results last week.
Hillsborough County Public Schools went up 4 percentage points, from 52 to 56% of students scoring a level 3 or higher on FSA. The district tied with Miami-Dade for the largest increase among comparable contiguous districts in this performance area. The state average also went up 4 percentage points, from 54 to 58%. Combined, these two large districts (Hillsborough and Miami-Dade) were key in the state's improvements.
The increase in percentage points for Hillsborough County Public Schools means 1,060 more students, this year, have a passing rate of Level 3 or higher.
In addition, Hillsborough County Public Schools has fewer students scoring at level 1, dropping from 23- 20%.
“All of the hard work by students, teachers, administrators and support staff shows in our dedication to ensuring our students receive a quality education,” said Deborah Cook, Chief Academic Officer, Division of Teaching and Learning.
Anderson Elementary and Schmidt Elementary had the largest gains in the district, increasing by 28 percentage points. Anderson Elementary increased from 47% to 75% of their students scoring a level 3 or higher. Schmidt Elementary went from 31% to 59% of students scoring level 3 or above.
“We are excited about the increase,” Superintendent Jeff Eakins said after receiving the results in between high school graduations. “We know we are preparing our students for life from the minute they walk in our doors as a kindergartener. Third grade is a pivotal year for our students and I’m encouraged by this increase.”
Delia Gadson-Yarbrough, Principal of Anderson Elementary, credits her staff for implementing team goals and individual student goals this year. “We set goals for our students, believed in them and celebrated their accomplishments all year,” explained Gadson-Yarbrough. The staff used the motto and hashtag “Minds On, Hearts Strong”, making sure kids love what they learn about. “If their heart is not in it, their mind won’t be in it,” said Gadson-Yarbrough. “We need to focus on what turns on their minds by making strong connections to our students and focusing on the whole child.”
Schmidt Elementary Principal Janet Kelly says her staff looked at the core instruction given to each student, through guided reading. Every student was brought into a small group setting so teachers could assess their skill level and their needs. Teachers could then differentiate instruction based on each child. Teachers at Schmidt Elementary also worked in PLC’s (Professional Learning Communities) to see how they each could fill in the gaps for the students, not just those in their class, working as a team.
Other schools showing impressive 20+ percentage point jumps include:
Frost Elementary - 35 % to 57%
Doby Elementary - 53% to 74%
USF/Patel Elementary - 31% to 51%
Hillsborough County Public Schools is the 8th largest school district in the nation with more than 214,000 students and 26,000 employees. There are 149 Title I schools in the district and 63.76% of students are on free or reduced meals.