Emma E. Booker fell among the 300 lowest-performing elementary schools in the state of Florida for 2019.
After the release of state-issued school and district grades, Sarasota County School Board members, as well as Superintendent Todd Bowden, contemplated future action for Emma E. Booker Elementary School.
The lowest-graded school in the district for 2019, Emma Elementary was the only Sarasota County school to receive a D rating from the Florida Department of Education. It received a B in 2017 and a C in 2018 .
According to the FLDOE’s accountability report documents, a school receives a D grade when it achieves approximately 32% to 40% of total possible grade points. Florida schools earn points from 11 possible components.
“There are four achievement components, four learning gains components, a middle school acceleration component, as well as components for graduation rate and college and career acceleration,” according to the FLDOE. “Each component is worth up to 100 points in the overall calculation.”
As a result, School Board member Shirley Brown asked Bowden at a July 16 board meeting what his plans were for Emma Elementary's improvement.
While Bowden says he does not believe the principal, teachers or students were of D quality themselves, he did affirm district officials would “draw very near” to the school as the upcoming academic year begins.
“We are going to meet with them this week and begin writing plans, make sure that they have their support in place,” he said. “[We’re going to] review the curriculum that they were using; Some things that they were doing were kind of outside of the district norm a bit.”
He did not elaborate further on how Emma Elementary strayed from normal district practices, though he did confirm the school’s fifth-grade students scored low on state tests, particularly in science.
“Science in fifth-grade is a problem statewide,” Chair Jane Goodwin said. “And I know from talking to Dr. Kingsley (assistant superintendent and chief academic officer of Sarasota County Schools), we are feverishly working on some new ideas to implement next year, but I think we must be vigilant with those fifth-graders ... I’m hoping we will be looking at that group extensively this next year.”
Raising Emma Elementary’s state-issued grade next year may be of importance as, according to the FLDOE, a school that scores two consecutive Ds is automatically required to engage in a planning year for improvement followed by two or three years of implementing a turnaround plan.
“I do anticipate having something on our August workshop agenda so that you have a clear understanding of what our action plan is for Emma,” Bowden said to school board members. “And to make sure they go beyond a D, move up to a C and then a B the following year.”
The upcoming School Board Workshop will be held Tuesday, Aug. 20.