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G.D. Rogers to help with FCAT stumbles

BRADENTON — When G.D. Rogers Elementary got its first Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test reading score back last month, Manatee County School District leaders knew something needed to change.

The Title I school’s third-grade students had the lowest score in the district. At 46, it fell far below the county average of 68 and the state average of 72.

So in an effort to improve, district leaders have started a summer school jump-start reading program at the school at 515 13th Ave. W.

The pilot program, which runs through June 30, will prepare students who failed the test for a mandatory reading camp that begins July 6.

“All students who did not pass the FCAT in third grade must attend a reading camp,” said district Executive Director of Academics Lynn Gillman, who spearheaded the jump-start program. “We needed to do something so these students are getting a head start on what their camp will look like.”

At the Title I school, where a majority of students qualify to receive free or reduced price meals because of economic status, 40 second-and-third-grade students are participating in the eight-day camp.

During the program, which started Monday, students work with seven teachers from across the district learning condensed and rigourous reading curriculum through one-on-one instruction.

“To have these students reading, working with creative teachers in small ratios is exactly what they need,” Gillman said.

Students also use Sucessmaker Software, a highly motivational software program that targets both math and reading, Gillman said. But students, of course, are focused on the reading portion.

A fun incentive for the young students is being able to create an avatar, a fictitious character once they successfully complete a portion of the program.

Funding for the summer teachers comes from the district’s summer school budget and some of the materials used in the program came from Title 1 funds, Gillman said.

“I think it’s a great investment,” schools Superintendent Tim McGonegal said Tuesday. “Once we got those scores back, we decided we had to do this.”

On May 28, the day after the state Department of Education released third-grade FCAT scores, McGonegal announced he was transferring G.D. Roger’s Principal Wendy Acosta to another school administrator position in the district for the upcoming school year. He cited performance-related issues for the move.

Last week, McGonegal announced he is replacing her with Ann Broomes, an assistant principal at Orange Ridge-Bullock Elementary. That school this year increased its FCAT reading score by 17 percent, compared to 2009 scores.