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Class Notes: Gainesville City Schools gets 1st look at testing scores
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Gainesville City Schools got the first look at its student performance data Monday night.

The 2011-12 balanced scorecard, a measure of performance and improvement, both overall and for subgroups, was presented during the Gainesville City Schools Board of Education’s monthly work session.

“We do have our baseline data to begin looking at,” said Jamey Moore, director of curriculum and instruction. “The data looks very solid this year, for the most part.”

From the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test to reading levels to graduation rates, the scorecard highlights areas of success and improvement.

The End of Course Test data, the exit exams for high school students, will not be available until the end of the month.

Although the CRCT retakes have not been calculated, the system has shown improvement from last year in most areas, but especially English/Language Arts.

All students, across all subgroups, performed better.

“We’ve been able to compress, to close that achievement gap, while elevating our top students,” said Moore. “Our goal is always compression and elevation.”

But, as some board members pointed out, there are still some achievement gaps for minorities and special education students, particularly in social studies and science.

“I’d like to see us do something with those achievement gaps as best we can,” said David Syfan, board member.

Moore said the scorecard is used for goal setting and addressing areas of weakness, like those achievement gaps.

“It allows us to ask: ‘What are the areas we’re weak in and what are we going to do about it?’” he said.

Other data the scorecard presented were the 2012 four-year graduation cohort. The state, now, only counts students who complete high school in four years for graduation rates. Last year, Gainesville’s graduation rate was 87.3 percent. This year’s four-year cohort is 58.4 percent.

School leaders say Gainesville High School requires more credits for graduation and many students graduate, just not in four years.

“I don’t want to be bound by what the state says is standard,” said Maria Calkins, board member.

School times to remain unchanged next year

After some debate and surveys, the Gainesville school board voted to keep the start time of school the same.

Talks were held on switching the start of elementary schools with middle and high schools to give sports teams and other extracurricular groups a chance to travel without missing class.

Surveys, done by phone, letters and online, polled students and parents. Those surveys did not provide “a definitive consensus.”

For the start of the 2012-13 school year, elementary schools will run from 7:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Middle and high schools will start an hour later at 8:30 a.m. and the final bell will ring at 3:30 p.m.

The board will likely continue to review the start times.

Lee Johnson covers education issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with him:

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