Column #39, posted August 8, 2007

Go Martin County, Beat Gilchrist County

I like football as much as the next guy. I really do. I want my local team to do its best and beat all the other teams.

Well honestly, I don’t care all that much, but I do like football. But I am getting a little tired of the football mentality that envelops our concept of schooling. You might be tempted to dismiss all this as being just the mentality of the South, but its really a nationwide issue.

Take a look at the article below taken from my local paper. What our educators are worrying about is winning the game. Unfortunately the game has nothing to do with educating students and everything to do with test scores, which are probably less valuable than football scores in predicting anything about the future of children’s lives.

In fact, I have a suggestion, Why not give the A rating to school districts that have the best football team? At least then we could go out and root for something real.

Martin County School District won't settle for B
Friday, July 27, 2007

STUART — The Martin County School District was just short of earning a perfect report card from the state in late June.

But the district, which earned 18 A's and one B, has a chance to earn straight A's. School officials are appealing J.D. Parker School of Science, Math & Technology's B grade. The Stuart elementary school had enough points to be considered an "A" school, but because the lowest 25 percent of the school's students didn't make learning gains, the state dropped the grade to a B.

"This was the only area that prevented them from having a grade of A," said Delores Oliver Calloway, the district's executive director of instructional services. "Based on what we've been able to identify after reviewing all of the information that we have" the difference boils down to one student's performance.

School grades are based on students' performance on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test and the progress or learning gains made from the year before. For the first time this year, science and how struggling students scored in math were factored into grades.
Martin had the second-highest percentage of A schools among the state's 67 counties. Gilchrist County had the highest percentage of A's, though the county in northeastern Florida only has four schools.

The district is also filing an appeal for Warfield Elementary in Indiantown. The school received an A, but did not made adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, state data shows.

FCAT scores are used to determine if schools made progress under the 2002 law, which looks at scores for specific subgroups, including minority, low-income and disabled students.

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