Manatee School District leaders are implementing sweeping changes in curriculum and instruction after a lackluster performance on the FCATS this year.
The Superintendent of Schools highlighted the changed this week after particularly disappointing FCAT 2.0 results for Reading and Math for students in grades 4 through 8, and in Science for grades 5 and 8.
The results released this week showed the Manatee District trailed the state in terms of the percentage of students considered proficient. FCAT scores are grouped in five different achievement levels – from a low of Level 1 to a high of Level 5. Students scoring Level 3 or higher are considered to be proficient, according to Sunshine State Standards.
“We anticipated our proficiency levels would be down and we acknowledge that these results show we are trailing the state,” said Tim McGonegal, superintendent of schools. “These scores provide confirmation of the changes we need to make as a school district to step up and meet the needs of our students, parents, teachers and staffs.”
Earlier this year, McGonegal reorganized the Curriculum and Instruction division, turning it into the Teaching and Learning Department and he brought in former Manatee High School Principal Bob Gagnon to be the new Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning.
“These scores did not surprise anybody,” Gagnon said. “We need to make significant change within our system and that’s what we are doing by making the transition to the Common Core, updating the teaching and learning cycle, providing better support for our teachers and changing the way we use formative assessments. We acknowledge these disappointments so we can celebrate gains in the future.”
Scores across the board this year were disappointing as the state created tougher grading standards for FCAT 2.0 causing tens of thousands more Florida students to fail the state's standardized test. The state plans to raise standards again in 2015 when Florida moves to a new national curriculum.
The test score release comes as the Manatee County School District considers renewing McGonegal's contract as superintendent. While McGonegal received mixed reviews from the school board, those reviews seemed to center more around politics and personality conflicts than around test scores. Overall, four of five board members gave him passing marks, rating him effective.
McGonegal and Gagnon, said there were positive signs in this week's scores.
While the percentage of Manatee District fourth graders considered proficient in reading was 59 percent, compared to the state’s 62 percent, Anna Maria Elementary and Willis Elementary both had 84 percent of fourth graders scoring at the proficient level
In fifth grade, 56 percent of Manatee students scored at level 3 or above compared to the state average of 61 percent. Witt Elementary had 76 percent of its fifth graders earn proficient scores and McNeal Elementary had 75 percent.
“We are seeing seeds of success in important areas and we need to continue to cultivate those successes throughout our school system,” McGonegal said.
In sixth grade, 51 percent of Manatee students scored proficient compared to the state average of 57 percent. In seventh grade, 54 percent of Manatee students scored proficient compared to the state average of 58 percent; and in eighth grade, 49 percent of Manatee students scored proficient compared to the state average of 55 percent.
In Mathematics, 54 percent of Manatee District fourth graders scored proficient compared to the state average of 60 percent. However, 79 percent of Witt fourth graders scored proficient, 78 percent of Anna Maria students scored proficient and two Title I schools – Palm View and Bayshore – scored 59 percent and 58 percent proficient respectively.
In fifth grade Mathematics, 49 percent of Manatee students scored proficient compared to the state average of 57 percent. In sixth grade, 47 percent of Manatee students scored proficient compared to the state average of 53 percent; in seventh grade, 53 percent of Manatee students scored proficient compared to the state average of 56 percent; and in eighth grade, 51 percent of Manatee students scored proficient compared to the state average of 57 percent.
In Science, 42 percent of Manatee District fifth graders scored proficient compared to the state average of 51 percent, and 41 percent of Manatee District eighth graders scored proficient compared to the state average of 46 percent.