‘We’re going to change the culture here’

Published: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 01:44 PM.

Bidwell said the school is aware now of several students who won’t receive their diplomas because of their inability to pass the required FCAT standardized test. He noted that the district would have received 10 bonus points, enough to secure a C grade, had at least half of the students who failed the FCAT the first time passed it on a subsequent attempt.

But they did not, and thus the school earned none of these points. “We got zero,” Bidwell said. “There’s no middle ground.

“Right now we have a high number of students who at this point of the year are not ready to graduate,” he said. “And we do have a lot of students who drop out once they reach 16.”

Gander said he would like to see statistics on the percentage of students who go on to earn their GED. “Are we losing half these kids when they’re seniors? This is the year to concentrate on saving them,” he said.

“Are we promoting students who shouldn’t be promoted?” asked Thompson.

Bidwell said questions need to be asked about the rigor of earlier school preparation. “There’s always stuff like that going on,” he said. “Low performers, they’re struggling. You have to weigh the social factors as well.”

Gander said the school board had acted on a request from the past administration to hire math and reading coaches, but it had not had the desired result. “A lot of times we just do the same things,” he said. “I’m wondering if that’s where the bodies need to be.”

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