The recently released standardized test scores for third grade reading indicate that the Apalachicola Bay Charter School is not only outperforming their peers across the state, but is emerging as one of the Big Bend region’s most successful elementary schools at the third grade level.

With 81 percent of its 37 third graders deemed to be proficient in reading, the ABC School outperformed every other elementary school in Gulf, Liberty and Wakulla counties, with only a handful of the most prestigious charter schools in Bay, Gadsden and Leon counties doing any better than ABC School.

The third graders at Franklin County School, on the other hand, appeared to be struggling, with only 35 percent of its 68 third graders achieving proficiency, well below the state average of 58 percent.

Superintendent Traci Moses emphasized teamwork as part of her plan to institute structural changes to better incorporate progress monitoring.

“There is still work to be done to improve student achievement,” she said. “I have been working with district and school-based leadership teams to analyze our data, and make plans for improvement.”

ABC School Principal Chimene Johnson said 81 percent proficiency is the school’s best performance since the state moved three years ago from the FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test) to the FSA (Florida Standards Assessment).

“I’m extremely proud of our third grade reading assessments results. Our third grade teachers, assistants and reading interventionist did an outstanding job of targeting students’ needs,” Johnson said.

Johnson noted that teachers used progress monitoring data to determine areas of focus, and supplemented the reading curriculum with additional resources for what is termed “standards-based instruction.”

She also credited the pre-Kindergarten through second grade teachers for their work in preparing these third graders by giving them a strong foundation with the English Language Arts standards.

“Our teachers have already analyzed student data, to make plans for improvement next year so that each child can reach their full potential,” said Johnson.

A closer examination of the ABC School’s scores show that 43 percent of the third graders there scored either a 4 or a 5, considered ahead of the baseline reading level, while only 5 percent scored a 1, deemed to be behind the level deemed acceptable for advancement into the fourth grade.

At the Franklin County School, only 17 percent scored a 4 or a 5, with roughly a third of the class scoring 1s and a third scoring 2s. Those scoring a 1 or a 2 will be required to enroll in a summer reading program so that they may advance to the fourth grade in the fall.

Moses, who taught elementary school at ABC before being elected superintendent last year, said changes are in the works for the Franklin County School’s progress monitoring software programs.

“We’ll have instructional coaches for elementary and middle/high school, tutoring during the school year, and summer reading academies,” she noted. “I plan to restructure our assessment and progress monitoring calendars and meet with district and school-based leadership teams on a regular basis to analyze student data. This will assist with providing interventions for students, and communication with parents for support.”

Moses that when considered district wide, the third grade reading scores showed 52 percent proficiency, nine percentage points better than the 41 percent of each of the last two years.

“I am a proponent of high standards…period,” Moses stressed. “The new Florida Standards represent the next step for our incredible students and support what good teachers have done all along. We cannot move our students forward without the high standards and high expectations that define our school system.

“I recognize the challenges these new standards and assessments pose for all stakeholders, everything from instructional resources to professional development is being restructured to better facilitate the implementation of the standards,” she said. “We have come a long way, but there is still work to be done. I can say, with confidence, the positive changes will support our students, staff, and parents. We are a team, because together, everyone achieves more.”