Florida Middle Schools Success

By: Patricia Hawke

The 2005-2006 school year was a tremendous success for the Florida schools, especially at the middle school level. The Florida schools’ educators across the state worked hard to improve student academic achievement levels and were rewarded for their efforts. The state of Florida awarded grades of A or B to 75 percent of its public schools. Not only did this show extraordinary progress for the Florida schools, but it also was a new record for the state.

The strongest gains were made in the middle schools. For example, Lake County has nine middle schools. Seven earned a grade of A last year, with the other two earning Bs. One of the B schools missed receiving an A by only one point. Osceola County has ten middle schools of which six earned an A, three earned a B, and one received a C grade.

Middle school is a crucial stage of academic achievement for students. It is the time when students transition from developing the basic skills learned in elementary school to learning how to put them into practice. Here, students begin to learn more in-depth content in order to develop the foundation that is needed in high school. Secondary education then builds on the foundation by digging deeper into the content and using it to help students develop their minds and become well-rounded adults.

If the middle Florida schools do their jobs right, as they did last year, then students will achieve a greater success in high school, be more likely to go on to college, and have a better chance to obtain and excel in a good career.

The major problems facing all middle Florida schools’ educators are the hormonal changes that youth experience at this age and the intense peer pressure students must deal with on a daily basis. These challenges make it easy for middle school students to get off track.

Florida schools’ educators are working hard to divert the students’ attention away from these problems by getting them more focused on learning. Many Florida schools are looking at last year’s strategies to review what worked and what did not. They plan to duplicate last year’s success, with the hopes of doing even better this year.

Seminole County schools, for example, improved the reading scores of struggling students by incorporating two research-based programs into its reading curriculum. They encouraged their Florida schools to use small reading groups with frequent monitoring of progress and goal setting for each student. This year, they plan to use this successful technique with their math curriculum.

Another example is Volusia County schools. Last year, they mapped their curriculum to set specific goals for each grade level and then assessed student progress based on achieving the goals.

It is obvious that educators in the Florida schools are committed to building this year on the progress they made last year. As with public schools across the nation, there will be no shortage of challenges facing the Florida schools. Unlike many public schools across the nation, the Florida schools are making progress for the youth of their state.

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