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The Sanibel School tops in district on state test

By Staff | May 31, 2017

The Sanibel School was one of two schools in the district that had 97 percent of its third grade students scoring a three or higher on the Florida Standards Assessment English Language Arts test.

“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.

“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.

The highest scoring schools in the district included 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.

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.

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 three percentage point gain in a years time.

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

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

This is the third year the students in the county have taken the FSA.

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.”

Although the reading comprehensive test is a lot more rigorous than years past, Vilardi said the students still have to show the same skill. In order to prepare them, The Sanibel School staff focused on lots of reading, accompanied with reading comprehensive. The school also offered a reading roundup for the kids who were struggling, by offering more reading time during the school day.

F.I.S.H. also sponsored after school tutoring to provide any student who was struggling with reading some extra help.

“My experience is they raise the standards, the schools and kids meet the challenge,” Vilardi said.

Fischer said they will continue to focus on the standards and really emphasize the importance of reading through more opportunities. She said the district is really 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 Dr. Adkins moved personnel from the district office back into the schools to work directly with the students, which she believes has paid off.

With summer break kicking off Friday, May 26, Vilardi said they offer a list of good books and summer reading opportunities at the public library to further promote reading for the students. Some of his teachers are also offering rewards for reaching certain reading goals over the summer.

“We try to do as much as we can to keep them going,” he said.

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.