School council focuses on improving reading scores

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Principal Jackie Featherston, left, begins the first Anna Maria Elementary School Advisory Council meeting of the 2018-19 school year Oct. 8 with introductions. Islander Photo: Ryan Paice

Hot off the heels of the Scholastic Book Fair at Anna Maria Elementary, the school advisory council is working on keeping students reading.

Meeting Oct. 8 for the first time in the 2018-19 school year, SAC members discussed improving a dip in test scores from last year, including drops in reading and science. The purpose of the council is to develop and evaluate yearly school improvement plans and assist in creating the school budget.

AME principal Jackie Featherston said in 2017-18, the council focused on math, resulting in improvements in math scores, but reading scores fell.

She said the school’s goal for 2018-19 is to have 80 percent of AME students meet efficiency in English Language Arts, as measured by the district’s K-5 quarterly assessments and Florida Standards Assessment tests in grades 3-5.

The percentage is based on a decline in test scores over the past couple of years at AME — from 79 percent in 2016-17 to 73 percent in 2017-18.

“For any school to make 80 percent proficiency is phenomenal. It’s very difficult to do,” Featherston said Oct. 8. “And we’re certainly very capable of doing it. We’ve got a lot of good experienced teachers who know what they’re doing and are taking their work very seriously.”

The SAC will use $5,800 from the Manatee County School District to pay for remediation of third-fifth grade students, including new after-school tutoring for third-graders, which will happen twice a week. Teachers will determine which students need remediation and recommend after-school tutoring to their parents.

The remediation model for fourth- and fifth-grade students is for a substitute teacher to run the classroom twice a week while teachers work with small groups of students on different skills.

Additionally, the state gave AME $1,024 for school improvement project expenditures. Featherston recommended 100 percent of the money support the school improvement plan.

“Whether that means paying a teacher a little bit more for some extra tutoring hours, getting substitutes or retired teachers in to support that way. Whatever we need to support that improvement,” she said.

The council voted unanimously to approve her recommended use of the money.

As the first SAC meeting of the new school year, council officers, including the positions of chair, vice chair and treasurer, were selected.

Janae Rudacille nominated David Zaccagnino to serve as chair, while Rudacille was nominated to serve as vice chair. Featherston nominated student support specialist Ivory Graham to serve as treasurer.

Without opposing nominations, the council unanimously voted to approve all three nominees.

Additionally, the council unanimously voted to approve Jenny Moore, Lauren Palmer, Curtis Hightower and Josh Fleischer as new members.

AME staff members voted among themselves for membership on the council, not requiring a vote of approval from council members at the first meeting of the year.