On July 26, 2013 the Florida Department of Education released the "preliminary" school grades for the 2012-2013 school year.
The FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test) is administered annually to all public school students in grades three through eleven. Each year elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and "combination" schools are assigned a school grade based primarily upon student achievement in reading, math, writing and science. Students' results are compiled to generate a grade for each public school.
Lee County continues to be among the top scorers in the state of Florida as is Cape Coral.
Pine Island Elementary School.
But Pine Island Elementary School led every elementary school in the county with a score of 640 points.
"I was actually at a convention in Orlando on Friday when I received a text message that said 'Way to go... Pine Island rocked the FCAT's' from a fellow principal. Naturally the first thing I did was to go online and see the results. I have to say it's just amazing. I'm very proud of the teachers, the staff, the students and the community for that performance," said Pine Island Elementary Principal Robert Mazzoli said.
Q. What do you attribute the school's success to?
"What accounts for the success here at Pine Island is great teachers and great staff. We are a small school with 226 students. This allows us to know our students very well. Our teachers are so knowledgeable about individual students this provides us with the opportunity to collaborate on the needs of a single student and as a result all of our students benefit," Mazzoli said.
Q. FCAT grading has become more rigorous this year, how does that effect test results?
"The new scoring is, in effect, raising the bar and that is a good thing. What happened is that the standards of the FCAT's "Writes" were elevated. Last year 4th grade students had to achieve a 3.0 (on a scale of 0-6) to meet proficiency standards in writing and this year students had to achieve a 3.5," Mazolli said.
Q. There was some controversy about the writing proficiency test. Can you explain what that was about and how it effected Pine Island Elementary?
"In the writing proficiency test that test is given to our fourth graders in February - last year 92 percent of our students met standards at 3.0. But this year with the new standard set at 3.5 only 69 percent met proficiency. Obviously this offers challenges for the schools. But we're ready to meet those challenges."
Q. What is the school's biggest strength?
I think it's the entire staffs commitment and dedication to the kids and the community. Plus, we have the greatest parents. They are very involved with their kids and the school.
Q. What challenges does your school face?
"Common Core! These are the national standards designed to provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn. They also reflect the knowledge and skills that our students will need for successful careers. The increased rigor of these standards will offer new challenges for us. Here at Pine Island Elementary we already have the tools and processes in place to meet those challenges.
This year Pine Island Elementary School ranked 50th out of 1,816 elementary schools in the state and since testing began in 1999 Pine island Elementary has received an "A" grade every year.
To see how Pine Island Elementary School compared with other schools in the state go to: schoolgrades.fldoe.org.