Miami Schools Get Top Marks this Year

Most of Miami Schools Earn an "A" from the State of Florida

Fifty-three percent of Miami-Dade's schools ? 179 out of 328 receiving grades Wednesday ? received an "A" based on their students' performance on the 2006 Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test this spring. This is an improvement from last year when the percentage was around forty-six percent. Overall, Miami Schools have scored very well in comparison to the whole state. This year, in total seventy-three percent of Miami Schools scored an "A" or a "B" in 2006 and only six percent received a "D" or "F" in this year's testing.

The State of Florida began the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test three years. Eighty-seven schools had higher grades in 2006 than in 2005, including 59 percent of middle schools (39 middle schools). The number of schools with higher grades in 2006 more than doubled the number with lower grades.

How the Schools have Improved

There are several ways that Miami Schools have improved in the 2006 school year. Twenty-two of the thirty-nine middle schools to receive improving grades have extended the school days and gone to a longer school year. Miami Schools have started to increase and broaden its Gifted Students programs as well.

This year the District will make improvements to how gifted students are identified and educated. This is a progressive plan that will be implemented over the next three years. The goal is to have by 2009 a completely new education program that will be of a superior quality and allows greater access to those underrepresented students. The plan is to have the program to be at schools across Miami Schools. The District will begin to intensive students screening to better identify gifted students.

This screening will begin earlier, in the first grade, and use a better screening tool that does not rely on language or verbal abilities. The Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test will be given to all first and third graders and all newly enrolled students in Miami Schools starting this school year. Fifth graders will be added to the testing next school year.

This is all part of the Miami School's Revamping Education for Gifted and All Learners Plan. This Plan lays out the overall recommendations, timelines and budget for the successful creation and implementation of the improved gifted education program. The Plan focuses on three areas: gifted education, advanced academic programs, and talent potential among all learners.

Some the ways in which Plan will try to enhance the gifted program include adding school psychologists and placement specialists to ensure timely evaluations and placements of potentially gifted students and by providing constant professional development for teachers, principals and staff, adding curriculum support specialists, and adding additional funds where needed. Another part of the Plan is to increase the level of parental involvement and support. One way to do so would be to increase the number of sessions for parents through the Parent Academy.

A large feature of the Plan is to provide equal access to all students in Miami Schools. The Plan calls for the delivery of home-based gifted programs in all schools, so that even schools with small gifted populations will be able to provide adequate services.

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Stacy Andell is a staff writer for Schools K-12, providing free, in-depth reports on all U.S. public and private K-12 schools. Stacy has a nose for research and writes stimulating news and views on school issues. For more on Miami schools visit www. . .

By: Stacy Andell

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