- Faith & Family
Holmes Elementary School and Miami Edison, Booker T. Washington and Miami Central senior high schools are no longer in danger of closing after the State Board of Education announced on Tuesday, March 27th, that the schools had demonstrated enough academic progress to exit ‘intervene’ status — an action that becomes official on July 1st.
“I was pleased to see that the state recognized our progress and that they feel confident that Edison is moving in the right direction,” said Edison Principal Pablo Ortiz.
With a student population of 915, where 91 percent are Black and of those 75 percent are of Haitian descent, Edison had struggled with five consecutive years of failing grades. However, for the past two years, the school has managed to achieve a “C” grade. As part of their efforts to improve the school’s academic performance, Edison provided coaches to help teachers improve their methods, directed teachers to collaborate and plan lessons together and used data assessments to determine in what areas students needed the greatest assistance, according to Ortiz.
County tweaks schools’ grading system
To be removed from intervene status, schools had to meet state-mandated requirements including educator quality, school improvement planning, curriculum alignment and monitoring processes and plans.
In Liberty City, Holmes Elementary School, which has a student population that is 98 percent Black, has been working to increase its academic performance. For the past three years they received a letter grade of “C,” according to Principal Atunya Walker.
“But in previous years, Holmes was an ‘F’ school with low results in reading and math that triggered it being labeled an intervene school,” she said.
Her plan was to focus on using assessment data as well as refining various teaching methods. And while they have made academic progress, she credits part of their removal from intervene status to the changing political climate.
“There were a lot of meetings in Tallahassee and a lot of pressure from people who really knew what they were talking about — I think they made the Legislative realize that schools that had been making academic progress had still been labeled for intervene status and it wasn’t fair,” she said.
Miami-Dade County School Board member Dr. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall has carefully monitored each school’s progress and has lent a hand to assist them.
“I passed a policy item that involved the community in developing school improvement plans, made the school improvement grant’s three-year plan more user-friendly and provided monthly reports on the progression of those plans that we then discussed at school board meetings,” she said.
However, the District 2 school board member also noted that parents remain the key to helping students reach academic success.
“As a life-long educator, I have learned that there is nothing better for a student than an involved parent,” she said. “In addition, I would like to see our students involved in a broader range of activities, i.e. music and art [since] tests can limit what our creative teachers can do to provide opportunities for our children to become well-rounded and productive citizens.”
Other schools still must pass the test
If a school is unable to improve its grades, then “it will become a district-managed turn around school; the principal will be removed as well as a good number of faculty members,” said Nikolai Vitti, director of the education transformation office for Miami-Dade County Public Schools [M-DCPS].
To remain in good standing and off intervene status, “schools cannot be an ‘F’ school.”
Currently, the only M-DCPS school that is still labeled under intervene status is Laura C. Sanders Elementary School in Homestead.
By Kaila Heard