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Cape charters score among highest on Florida Standards test

By Staff | May 25, 2017

The city of Cape Coral’s two municipal elementary schools are among Lee County’s highest scoring public schools on the third grade Florida Standards Assessment English Language Arts test.

Schools with the highest percentage of students scoring a 3 or above include The Sanibel School and Pine Island Elementary School with 97 percent; Oasis Elementary School with 84 percent; Three Oaks Elementary School with 82 percent and Christa McAuliffe Charter Elementary School with 81 percent.

A score of 3 or above is the proficiency ranking required by the state for student promotion to fourth grade. The test focuses on key ideas and details; craft structure; integration of knowledge and ideas and language and editing. The key ideas and details focuses on comprehension, analyzing and summarizing information and concepts, while the craft structure portion of the exam has students interpret literal and non-literal words and phases.

FSA testing is in its third year, replacing the old FCAT.

“We are elated and excited about this,” The Sanibel School Principal Chuck Vilardi said. “It was an increase from last year. Last year we were at 94 percent.”

He said although they tied with another school in the district, their overall score was the highest at 325. Pine Island Elementary School came in at 318 as a mean score.

The county mean score is 302.

“Our kids are well prepared and our teachers have done an outstanding job this year,” Vilardi said, adding that the positive energy that flowed through the school this year was captivating.

According to the Florida Department of Education 7,641 third grade students in Lee County were tested for the Florida Standards Assessments for English Language Arts. Out of those students, 57 percent scored a three or above. In 2016, 7,521 third grade students were tested for an average of 54 percent scoring a three or above, a 3 percentage point gain year over year.

The state percentage was 58 percent of third graders scoring a three or above for 2017, and 54 percent for 2016.

School District of Lee County School Board Chairman Mary Fischer said that’s a percentage they would expect to be the norm. Even with the rigorous testing, she said it is great the district was able to achieve the 57 percent and hopes to continue to move that number upward.

Fischer said she is happy with the increase because four “turnaround” schools had significant gains. Those schools include Colonial Elementary School, an improvement of 12 percentage points; Manatee Elementary School, an improvement of 11 percentage points; James Stephens International Academy, an improvement of 10 percentage points and Franklin Park Elementary School, an improvement of 16 percentage points from the year prior.

In addition, Fischer said 31 elementary schools increased their percentage points of students receiving a three or higher on the test.

“I feel really confident that we are on the right track with the way we are teaching our standards,” Fischer said.

The approach was to dig a little deeper into understanding the concept while reading, which she said seems to be paying off.

A level three performance is considered satisfactory, “may need additional support for the next grade/course,” by the FLDOE. Level four, proficient, is defined as “likely to excel in the next grade/course.” The fifth level, mastery, is defined by FLDOE as “highly likely to excel in the next grade/course.”

Level 2 is below satisfactory, “likely to need substantial support for the next grade/course:” and level 1 is below satisfactory, “Likely to need substantial support for the next grade/course.”

In Lee County, 19 percent of third grade students taking the test scored at Level 1, 24 percent scored at Level 2, 29 percent scored at level 3, 20 percent scored at Level 4 and 8 percent scored at Level 5.

Fischer said the district will continue to focus on the standards and really emphasize the importance of reading through more opportunities. She said the district is focused on Superintendent Dr. Greg Adkins’ Vision 2020.

“Our main goal is to improve student achievement . . . additional coaching and teaching. More professional development for our teachers and more support for our kids,” she said.

Fischer said Adkins moved personnel from the district office back into the schools to work directly with the students, which she believes has paid off.

According to the Lee County School District individual score reports will be available late June, early July pending distribution by the FLDOE at the schools.

Fischer said the district is ranked third out of 10 mega districts in the State of Florida following the last administration of the ELA.

“We are really pleased we are on the right track and will continue to work with the kids in the same way,” she said.