Superintendent Mike Grego is wrapping up his first school year as head of Pinellas County Schools.
Education leaders gathered in Orlando today for a summit sponsored by the Florida Sterling Council, a not-for-profit corporation supported by the Executive Office of the Governor.
The summit covered a wide range of issues facing schools and universities.
Pinellas Superintendent Mike Grego laid out his plan to move the district forward as the state transitions to Common Core standards. Florida schools are scheduled to use the new standards in every grade by the fall of 2014.
The district will need to establish goals in critical need areas and hold the players accountable, he said.
Grego’s five goals include improving student performance, especially at schools with a higher percentage of students living in poverty; improving district reading instruction; ensuring schools are safe and reducing staff turnover; balancing the district budget; and making sure school technology is up to date and ready for online end-of-course exams.
“While we have relatively static third grade reading and math scores, we think the writing component is a real step forward,” Bennett said, noting that scores for third-graders didn’t change much from last year.
Overall, 3rd grade students increased their reading scores by one percentage point and math scores stayed the same.
“I am a person that doesn’t believe that static scores are really ever acceptable. We can’t be satisfied,” Bennett said, “and frankly I think the flat performance in reading is something we should take special notice to given our emphasis on reading.”
“We intend to drill into the data with our districts,” Bennett said, “help our districts come up with improvement plans to make sure we are improving ourselves in those areas.”
On a positive note, 4th graders saw a nine-point increase in the percentage of students scoring at 3.5 or higher in writing.
“The 4th grade writing results, I think, show incredible improvement,” Bennett said.
As Florida transitions to Common Core State Standards, Bennett said he expects to see improvement in all areas because teachers will be better able to meet “the instructional needs of students.”
Next year, students will again take FCAT 2.0 Reading, Writing and Math – then switch to the new Common Core assessments in 2014-15.
“In my case and my wife’s case, we didn’t have parents that could pay for higher education. So the cost of tuition was very significant to us,” Scott said. “I am absolutely committed to keeping tuition low.”
“This is not a political decision. This is a decision for Florida families,” Scott said. “Tuition cannot continue to go up the way it’s been going up.”
Scott said his “filter” in determining whether to veto each item came down to three questions:
Does it help families get more jobs?
Does it improve the state’s education system?
Does it make government more efficient in order to keep the cost of living low?
Scott said he’s asked university and college presidents to think about how they can make sure students get degrees that will result in jobs.
“When they finish, do they have a job? Could they afford their education? How much debt are they going to have? We cannot put our students in a position where they can’t afford higher education,” Scott said.