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Issues and Voices that Matter April 12, 2012

The ABC’s of Schools and Poverty

ABC's of Poverty & Schools title

A school’s rating of A, B or even F is directly related to the percentage of its students living in poverty. To measure a school’s instructional success would it be fairer to factor in the poverty level of its students? Listen to UCF economist Stanley Smith, Seminole County Schools’ data specialists Deborah Camilleri and Brandon McKelvey, and Midway Elementary School principal Kristina Marshall discuss ways that poverty can influence student achievement and school rankings. Length: 21.42

Produced, reported and edited by Desta Horner


Why do some schools receive an A rating and others receive a C? Using official data on school achievement based on FCAT testing, Dr. Stanley Smith calculated the impact of poverty on the scores for 38 Seminole County public elementary schools. He concluded at 74% of the variation in scores among the schools could be explained by the percentage of students eligible for free or reduced lunch at a given school. Dr. Smith then adjusted the point scores to reflect the poverty factor which resulted in a new and higher ratings. This often moved schools with a C grade up the A level. By taking poverty into account, he believes this is a more accurate and realistic indicator of a school’s achievement. Efforts to reduce poverty will have the effect of enhancing student achievement.

Dr. Deborah Camilleri and Dr. Brandon McKelvey of the Dept. of Assessment and Accountability for Seminole County Public Schools recognize Dr. Smith’s observation of the relationship between poverty and school grades as valid. They use the data from schools struggling with disadvantaged students to guide decisions on instruction at the school level to generate student learning gains at those schools. This year understanding the factors involved in achieving student proficiency will become even more challenging as standards are being raised to an even a higher level.

Kristina Marshall was the principal at the highest scoring elementary school in the county. She is now serving at a C rated school. The former had a free and reduced lunch population of 11%, the latter a population of 76%. She commented on the similarities and differences between these schools and the effort to produce high achieving students.

Principal Speakers

Dr. Stanley Smith
Professor of Finance, University of Central Florida
Dr. Deborah Camilleri
Coordinator, Dept. of Assessment and Accountability, Seminole County Public Schools
Dr. Brandon McKelvey
Performance Data Analyst, Dept. of Assessment and Accountability, Seminole County Public Schools
Kristina Marshall
Principal, Midway Elementary School

Extended Interviews

Dr. Stanley Smith, Professor of Finance, University of Central Florida, with Desta Horner
Length – 53:33
Dr. Deborah Camilleri and Dr. Brandon McKelvey, Dept. of Assessment and Accountability, Seminole County Public Schools, with Desta Horner
Length – 44:19
Kristina Marshall, principal, Midway Elementary School, with Desta Horner
Length – 14:17

4 Responses to “The ABC’s of Schools and Poverty”

  1. Constance Bennett says:

    Midway appears to have a new principal who is dedicated to making a difference in the community of the children she serves. I particularly appreciated how often she repeated that the kids of Midway are eager and grateful for what their teachers do for them, no different from the students in the “A” school where she was a principal prior to her coming to Midway.
    This interview gives me hope that there are administrators in Seminole County who care about all children. I am particularly delighted with the county administrators who saw fit to place Ms. Marshall in a “C” school after she performed so admirably in an “A” level school. Great going, Seminole County School District! Thank you, Desta Horner, for this upbeat interview.

  2. Christin Lewin says:

    This explains why the principal at Choices in Learning Charter School screens applications and discriminates against minority/migrant students applicants. ESOL kids aren’t going to be scoring highly or boosting their FCAT scores and that’s all that matters to her - keeping her “A” rating and thus her funding.
    Shame on you, Janet Kearney!

  3. Truthful Michelle says:

    No, shame on you C Lewin for slandering Choices In Learning and it’s leadership with false information!

  4. Christin Lewin says:

    You are kidding yourself, “Truthful Michelle” if you think a principal who made 6 digits last year cares about anything but those 6 digits.
    Check your facts and read the parent surveys from the last 2 years. I am SO GLAD this is being talked about so thank you cmfmedia!!!!

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