Just like the students, school district administrators wait with bated breath as their grades are announced.
On Thursday, Alachua County Public Schools’ district grade increased from a B to an A. To evaluate these schools, the Florida Department of Education looks at students’ standardized test scores, said Jennifer Wise, the executive director of curriculum for Alachua County Public Schools.
To improve its school district in the past year, Wise said administrators focused on supporting teachers so they could better support students. Though there has been a teacher shortage in the district, administration has been working to both retain and recruit new teachers, Wise said.
“It’s a very complex system with a lot of moving parts, between teachers, parents and students. We are trying to keep everything aligned and cooking with gas so that more good things happen,” Wise said.
Wise said it is important to focus on quality instruction to continue improving for next year. The more teachers and administrators can differentiate and meet individual student needs, the better they will do, Wise said.
“Being an A is great, but until every single student is reaching their full potential, there is still work to be done,” Wise said.
While the overall district grade is an A, individual schools receive grades as well, Wise said.
Howard W. Bishop Middle School’s individual grade, for example, remained a B this year, Principal Michael Gamble said.
Though a higher district grade reflects well on all schools within it, there is a difference between this grade and the individual school’s grades. On a school level, a B grade means an administration has to take a look at these results and examine both its wins and its losses, Gamble said.
“We need to keep doing better with our lowest-quartile students,” Gamble said. “We have had some individual wins with students that did better, especially as far as reducing the achievement gap between African-American students and white students, but we can always keep improving.”
[FILE PHOTO] 35-year-old Lilliemarie Gore leads students of Idylwild Elementary School through a series of math exercises. Mrs. Gore was awarded the title of "2017-2018 Alachua County Teacher of the Year" earlier this month.