Tough year for third-grade language arts test – news – ocala.com – ocala, fl gas in babies that breastfeed

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Evergreen Elementary, which must earn a C school grade this year or it will be turned over to an outside curriculum company, had the second largest percentage point gain among the county’s 31 elementary schools on this year’s third-grade Florida Standards Assessment in language arts.

Evergreen’s proficiency rate jumped from 26 percent in 2017 to 36 percent in 2018. Officials say the rise can be attributed to a community-sponsored tutoring program in the spring and the fact that the district launched a gifted program at the school.

Evergreen’s rise was one of the few bright spots for this year’s Marion County third-graders: Overall, the proficiency percentage for Marion third-graders dropped from 50 in 2017 to 46 this year. Marion is now 11 percentage points behind the state average, 3 points farther behind than it was last year, according to data released by the Florida Department of Education.

Two-thirds of the state’s 67 school districts had a drop in proficiency rate. Marion County had the eighth worst proficiency rate among the state’s 67 districts, and Marion’s 46 percent proficiency mark was the lowest among the state’s larger counties ( those with enrollments of 22,000 or more.)

• Many districts, including Marion, had an achievement spike last year. Most increased their third-grade reading scores. This year the story is different. Most districts went down. Fifty of the 75 districts (including special lab schools) decreased.

Besides Evergreen, two other schools improved their proficiency by double digits on the third-grade language arts assessment: Sparr had the largest gain of 12 points (44 percent to 56 percent) and Saddlewood by 10 points (61 percent to 71 percent.)

Eleven of the district’s schools dropped by 10 or more percentage points: South Ocala and Fessenden (16-point drops), Emerald Shores (15), Legacy (14), Fort McCoy (14), Belleview-Santos (14), East Marion (13), Anthony (12), Sunrise (11), Eighth Street (10) and Madison Street (10).

School Board member Nancy Stacy said the drop in third grade language arts proficiency is a sign that the district needs an appointed superintendent. Marion County is one of the few school districts in the country that elects its superintendent of schools. Stacy led the charge to put a referendum on November’s ballot that will ask voters to change the system.

"This reinforces my plea to join the other large school districts, which are all outperforming us, by having an appointed superintendent," Stacy said. "Our students deserve having an ‘effective’ appointed superintendent held accountable by the School Board every year, versus having an elected ‘popular’ one only accountable every four years."

As to Evergreen, Narvella Haynes, the school’s School Advisory Council president, led a charge in the spring to tutor children at Evergreen who were struggling. Haynes wants to reserve comment about Evergreen’s improvement until all scores are in and a grade is given.

However, she did say that the district’s prediction software is not accurate. The district used iReady data to say in January that there was no possible way Evergreen could improve its grade to a C. Superintendent of Schools Heidi Maier asked the board to close the school. The board chose to hire an outside company to run the school for $401,000 if Evergreen can’t make a C.

Elementary school grades are based on seven criteria: the combined average proficiency rating in third-, fourth- and fifth-grade language arts; the combined average proficiency rating in third-, fourth- and fifth-grade math; the percentage of students who made learning gains in language arts; percentage of students who made learning gains in math; percentage of students in the lowest 25 percent who made learning gains in language arts; percentage of students in the lowest 25 percent who made learning gains in math; and proficiency percentage in science.