District schools earn high marks
Information that was released Tuesday morning by the Florida Department of Education showed a significant improvement within the Lee County School District for the state accountability and grading system.
Ninety-three percent of the schools in Lee County received an A or B grade, compared to a statewide average of 71 percent.
Cape Coral High School experienced a jump of two grades, which took it from a school grade of a C to an A. The school was on the borderline of a B grade a year ago.
“It’s been a wonderful day,” Cape Coral High School Principal Eric McFee said Tuesday afternoon.
The school has seen steady improvement, he explained due to it being a D school five years ago. McFee said that improvement has been accomplished because teachers have the opportunity to tailor a child’s education according to the subject areas they need additional help with.
The teachers also have a better understanding of the rating rules, along with how to read the students’ information and data and apply it each year.
It’s a matter of the teachers “understanding what they (students) need one-on-one,” McFee said.
“Each year we understand the rules a little better,” he said. “Each year we have had training and ability to learn how to read that data and take what is important out.”
Island Coast High School also experienced a jump of two grades.
Principal Dr. Pete Bohatch said staff was thrilled to hear the news Tuesday morning regarding the new high school grades.
“The staff is very excited,” he said, adding that there are “a lot of smiles in the building.”
The school went up two letter grades from a D to a B from the 2008-2009 school year to the 2009-2010 school year.
“That’s quite an accomplishment to go up two letter grades,” he said.
McFee explained that there were new components added to the grading system that were applied for the 2009-2010 school year.
Those components include the graduation rate, graduation rate for at-risk students, accelerated curriculum participation, accelerated curriculum performance, postsecondary readiness of students in reading and in math and growth or decline in data components of these measures from year to year.
We got “excellent scores on the new components,” McFee said.
Bohatch said the school had an 18 percent graduation rate of its at-risk students at Island Coast.
The grading system also includes two specific rules, which addresses the performance of the lowest 25 percent in reading and the at-risk graduation rates. If the percent falls below the 25 percentile, the high school is not awarded an A, even if it has earned enough points.
Island Coast was 1 percent away from earning an A for the 2009-2010 school year, Bohatch explained because of the stimulation in the grading system that requires 50 percent of the 9th and 10th grade students to make learning gains with their reading.
He explained they will begin working with teachers, students, along with offering more opportunities for the students to improve their reading.
“Reading is a complicated science,” Bohatch said, adding that many students attending Island Coast are four to five grade levels behind in their reading. “It takes time.”
Island Coast also worked in many areas to improve its grade as well, which included participation in advanced placement (AP) courses, along with an increase in their graduation rate.
Bohatch said they had a 27 percent increase in students taking AP classes, which provided them with a lot of points. The graduation rate also increased by 14 percent.
Bohatch said the school could not have received the grade it did without the teachers and district’s help.
“I give a lot of credit to the district for making it happen,” he said.
Now that the Cape High has reached an A grade, McFee said they will concentrate on keeping their point value high by continuing on with what they have already implemented. A goal of increasing all 18 categories by 1 percent is among their strategy of continuing their successful grade.
McFee said he is “very proud of the staff and the students” because “they worked very hard to get there.” He believes that now that they have received a taste of success they will continue to work hard to maintain that A.
“I am looking forward to many more years of this level of performance,” McFee said.
Mariner High School improved its school grade from a C to a B and Island Coast High School and Oasis Charter School maintained their A grade.
Seventy-six Lee County schools, or 86 percent earned an A or B during the 2009-2010 school year. The district had 13 schools that increased one grade level, along with having no D schools. For five consecutive years there has been no F schools in Lee County.