Three elementary schools in historically Black neighborhoods get low grades from state.
BY ANDREAS BUTLER
School grades were recently released and the results show that some schools in Daytona Beach’s predominantly Black neighborhoods continue to struggle.
The Volusia County School district itself received a B grade overall from the Florida Department of Education while the Flagler County School district received an A grade.
In Volusia, 14 schools improved by one letter grade but 10 dropped down a grade.
Although no local schools received an F, four elementary schools received D grades.
Three are located within Daytona’s city limits – Westside at 1210 Jimmy Ann Drive, Champion at 921 Tournament Drive, and Palm Terrace at 825 Dunne Ave. The fourth school is South Daytona Elementary.
Consistent D grade
All of these elementary schools have a high number of African-American or minority students; Westside sits in a predominantly Black neighborhood.
Palm Terrace has received a D for four straight years.
The state will approve a turnaround plan for the school and an operator will be placed at Palm Terrace to assist teachers and administrators.
Shantel Taylor’s son, Ta’Maj Woodard, attends Palm Terrace. He will be in the fifth grade this upcoming academic year.
“As a concerned parent my child’s education always comes first,” Taylor told the Daytona Times.
“To repeatedly receive a D grade shows the issue is not just the students’ inability to learn but that the school is missing the mark in teaching strategies and properly preparing students for the rigorous standardized testing system that they face,” she added.
Westside, Palm Terrace and Champion, which received D grades, are also feeder schools to Campbell Middle. Westside and Champion have received D grades for two straight years.
C for Campbell
There has been some success for Turie T. Small Elementary at 800 S. South St. and Campbell Middle School at 625 S. Keech St. Both received C grades.
Both are predominantly Black schools in Daytona Beach.
Campbell was in Palm Terrace’s shoes three years ago but has had three years of improved grades.
“We thank our business partners, community, parents, clergy and city for their support for our students and school,” said Dr. Jerry Picott, principal of Campbell Middle School.
“They believe in the upward trajectory of the school. Their support has helped us focus and strive to do better.’’
Appeal for help
Campbell faces a challenge to maintain its grade or even improve it.
The middle school also had more than 90 students that were administratively placed in the sixth grade, which means they did not fully meet the requirements to pass the fifth grade.
“We, of course, want to be an A school. We face several challenges which most schools do not face,” Picott explained.’’
“That is why we need all the help and support that we can get to ensure that our kids are getting the best educational opportunities possible as well as the help that they need to succeed in the classroom. As a matter of fact, all of our schools needs support. The community must step in and assist these schools.”
The D schools all have the three factors in common – being mostly Black or minority, having the highest number of students on free or reduced lunch, and more Tier I students. Tier I relates to student achievement and behavior.
“I feel like the standards and curriculum are not the problem, but the manner in which it is taught isn’t preparing students for the future. I don’t want my child to fall behind because he isn’t prepared to align with the demands of the education system,” Taylor shared.
“I want to be sure that I can entrust his teacher to teach him the right methods and strategies that will help him excel in education.”
The problem could be with the grading and testing system or teaching, she noted.
“I think its teaching. They don’t have a good foundation. They change teachers and administrators so much. Your child can make straight A’s and still not be good test-takers. I think that’s ridiculous,” she stated.
C for Mainland
On the high school level, Mainland High, located at 1255 W. International Speedway Blvd., also received a C grade. Mainland has a predominantly minority population.
The state Legislature recently passed a law that will give $15,000 bonuses to teachers who choose to teach at D and F schools.
According to its website (www.vcsedu.org), Volusia County Schools has 85 schools, more than 63,000 students, and is the 13th largest school district in Florida.
‘Teamwork’ in Flagler
For the first time in eight years, the Flagler was listed as an A-rated district.
“I am absolutely elated for our students, their families, our faculty and staff, district and school administration, and our Flagler County community. It is something to celebrate,” Superintendent James Tager said in a statement released last week.
“Teamwork is the key. I can’t say enough about the people within our school buildings that do the hard work every day.”
Diane Dyer, Teaching and Learning executive director of Flagler Schools pointed to four items that Tager has been stressing with the schools during the 2018-2019 school year.
“Focus on literacy and high expectations, paying attention to the early warning system and identifying students who need the most support, increase the graduation rate, and stress acceleration. We made gains in all those areas and it paid off,” she said.