Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Can't Wait for School to Begin Good Test Showings Boost Officials' Hopes

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Can't Wait for School to Begin Good Test Showings Boost Officials' Hopes

Article excerpt

Superintendent David Owens and Assistant Superintendent Walter Brock, two of the top people who run the Clay County school district, are as excited about the new school year as a couple of incoming kindergartners.

Why?

Their upbeat attitude is based on the overall good showing the district's students made in the last school term on standardized tests, as well as the state's grading process for schools. This year -- with district administrators, principals and teachers determined to improve on student achievement -- will be even better, they said.

Expect "lots of excitement," Owens said. "We have done a lot of teacher training this summer. . . . We hope all the things we have in place will pay off and I'm sure it will."

Brock said he is "anticipating one of the best years we've ever had in Clay County."

"Clay County truly does have a highly professional group of teachers and administrators. We have . . . parents who are concerned about and very supportive of the schools. Our district has accepted the challenge to strive to be the very best and that is half the battle," he said. "The students are beginning to accept that challenge, too."

Teachers return to the classroom a week from today for four days of planning. Students' first day is Aug. 24.

Projected enrollment for the district as a whole is 27,857 -- 14,665 students in the elementary grades, 4,373 students at the junior high level, 8,612 at the high schools and 207 at Bannerman Learning Center, according to district figures. The projected enrollment is about 3.6 percent higher than the district's total enrollment at the end of the 1998-1999 school year of 26,883.

Over the summer, district administrators have been reviewing data on students' 1998-1999 performance in three key assessments -- the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT, which tests reading and math skills at certain grade levels; Florida Writes!, which evaluates writing ability; and state school accountability reports that grade individual schools.

On FCAT, Clay students surpassed state averages at every level but one. On Florida Writes!, 17 of the 28 schools showed improvement in writing skills over last year's score and five schools showed no change. …

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