July 14, 2008

At Ridgeview and Doctors Inlet, Students’ Education is Grade-A


Well-wishers kept telling John Westmoreland he was not sufficiently excited.

When state grades were announced Tuesday, the school where he serves as principal, Ridgeview High, earned an A from students' 2008 scores on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, improving two grade levels from a C in 2007.

The gravity of the accomplishment just took a while to sink in, he said.

"I was really surprised. I thought maybe if we're lucky we'd get a B," he said. "It didn't really hit me until midday."

The next step was celebratory food.

"We went to get some Popeye's chicken," he said. "We're extremely excited. This is pretty good stuff."

At Doctors Inlet Elementary, principal Anne Miller was on vacation this week, but came to work on Tuesday because she knew school grades were expected. The news was worth cutting into her off time.

Like Ridgeview, Doctors Inlet earned an A from 2008 FCAT scores, also jumping from a C in 2007. And like Westmoreland, she was surprised.

"It's hard to tell [from the scores, which were released earlier]," she said. "I knew we would get at least a B. But I didn't know this."

Miller was proud for her students and their progress.

"It's not about the grade," she said. "It's about the kids."

Countywide, school administrators were raving about the kids' accomplishments. Out of 35 schools, 28 received A's, up from 20 that received the top grade in 2007. One school received a B; six schools received C's. The newest school in the county, Coppergate Elementary, which opened in August, got an A.

"I am elated," said Superintendent David Owens. "We had some obstacles to overcome and some challenges to meet and we did it. The scores truly reflect the caliber of education our children are receiving in Clay County. My hat goes off to everyone ... including the entire Clay County community who has always placed a strong emphasis on education."

As a whole, the school district went up 3 points in the percentage of students meeting high standards in reading and math, up 2 points in the percentage of students meeting high standards in science, up 6 points in the percentage of students making learning gains in reading and up 5 points in the percentage of students making learning gains in math.

Also, the percentage of the lowest-achieving students making learning gains in reading and math increased by 4 points.

"Overall, we are very pleased," said Sharon Chapman, assistant superintendent for instruction. "Learning is our business and we will use the data to continue to strengthen the learning process for our children."

In the past year, Ridgeview High and Doctors Inlet administrators and teachers targeted struggling students, identified the subjects they were having trouble with and provided intensive assistance. That effort will continue for the 2008-09 school year, they said.

"We have different kids with different needs," Miller said.

At Ridgeview, some teachers gave up their planning periods for nine weeks to help out in intensive reading classes, Westmoreland said. Also, tutoring was offered during lunch period.

"We hired some good people, some good new teachers," he said. "And the veteran teachers kind of stepped up to the plate. You can have all the doggone computers and pretty frills, but when that classroom door closes, it's the teaching. That's were the rubber meets the road."

He also credited Ridgeview's new schoolwide, 50-minute lunch period at the same time for all students begun last year, as one of the factors contributing to the school's success.

"The kids like that. They felt like we gave them something," he said. "If a kid is happy going to school, they're going to do better."CLAY COUNTYTheir take: The district improved in all areas except writing, where it held steady, Superintendent David Owens said. Three of the six high schools and all junior high schools got A's.Our take: With no D's or F's this year and an increase in the number of A's and B's, Clay County had a good year. Two-thirds of the county's schools saw their scores increase. Doctors Inlet Elementary increased the most in score points.School '08 '07 '06 '05Argyle Elementary = A A A -Charles E. Bennett Elementary -C C A CClay High +C B B CClay Hill Elementary -A A B BCoppergate Elementary A - - -Doctors Inlet Elementary +A C A AFleming Island Elementary = A A A AFleming Island High +A B A AGreen Cove Springs Junior High +A A A AGrove Park Elementary -C B B BJ.L. Wilkinson Elementary -C C C CKeystone Heights Elementary -A A A AKeystone Heights Jr.-Sr. High A B A DLake Asbury Elementary - A A A ALake Asbury Junior High +A A A -Lakeside Elementary +A A A ALakeside Junior High -A A A AMcRae Elementary +A A A BMiddleburg Elementary +A A A BMiddleburg High +C C C DMontclair Elementary +A A B AOakLeaf School +A A - - Orange Park Elementary +A A A AOrange Park High +B C C BOrange Park Junior High +A A A ARideout Elementary +A A A ARidgeview Elementary -C B A ARidgeview High +A C B BRobert M. Paterson Elementary +A B A AS. Bryan Jennings Elementary +A A A ASwimming Pen Creek Elementary +A A A AThunderbolt Elementary +A B A ATynes Elementary +A B A BW. E. Cherry Elementary -A A A AWilkinson Junior High +A A A BSource: Florida Department of EducationKEY - School not open that year = No change in points + Means school earned more points compared to last year, indicating student achievement is improving - Means school earned fewer points compared to last year, indicating student achievement is declining

(c) 2008 Florida Times Union. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.