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Fort Myers Beach Elementary “A” okay

School receives A grade three years running.

July 5, 2017
Jessica Salmond, Chuck Ballaro - News Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Fort Myers Beach received straight A's again this year from the Florida Department of Education.

The Department released the preliminary grades for schools Thursday.

The state assesses each school every year based on its scores in proficiency tests given to the students. Scores are given in several test categories, such as reading and math.

Fort Myers Beach has a history of receiving A grades. In the last 10 years, the school has earned A's every year except in 2011, 2012 and 2014.

"The success of being an A school has three ingredients, the school, the teachers and community support," said Principal Jeff Dobbins. "The teamwork makes the school and students successful."

Dobbins was pleased with the increases his school made this year, making improvements in English language arts, science and learning gains. The learning gains category is how many points individual students earn by improving their proficiency levels from one year to the next.

"We looked a lot at student data and grown and what they needed to be more successful," Dobbins said.

Out of Lee County's 12 elementary schools, Fort Myers Beach Elementary had one of the highest percentages of economically-disadvantaged students with a 86.4 percent. With 117 students, that means 100 of them are in families that are facing economic difficulty.

It was the 19th highest school in the entire district in this category.

"I think that's a misconception that the beach school is affluent and wealthy, and we're not," Dobbins said.

In comparison, Sanibel's elementary only had 23 percent of students reported as economically disadvantaged. Out of the 19 schools district-wide reporting between 86 percent and 99 percent of economic disadvantage, 10 received A grades and the remaining nine received lower scores.

"We've done quite well," Dobbins said. "It just means there's a lot of great things going on in our classrooms."

Eighteen schools in Lee County overall saw improvement and moved up a letter grade for the

2016-17 school year.

"I am proud of the hard work of our teachers, administrators and district staff over the last year. While we know our schools are much more than a grade, this data shows we are moving in the right direction," said Lee County Schools Superintendent Dr. Greg Adkins in a prepared statement.

According to the results, 52 percent of Lee County public schools earned an "A" or "B" grade, up from 46 percent last year and much closer to the statewide average of 57 percent.

While the district maintained its "B" grade for a third straight year, it increased its overall percentage of total points from 54 to 57, moving the district closer to its goal of an "A" grade.

According to the school district, this moves Lee County up five notches from 35th in the state overall to 30th.

There are 67 county districts in the state.

This year no Lee County schools received an "F" grade, and nearly 30 percent of schools in Lee County improved their grades. James Stephens International Academy in Fort Myers raised its grade from an "F" to a "B" in one year.

Two area schools also showed significant improvement. Bayshore Elementary in North Fort Myers went from a "C" to an "A" as did Caloosa Elementary in Cape Coral.

Dobbins is already preparing next year's curriculum to continue improvement. When kindergarden students registered for the fall, the beach school sent packets home with the families, complete with color, number and word cards and other skills to learn over the summer.

"People don't understand, at 86.4 percent economically disadvantaged, they're coming to school missing a lot," he said. "If they work through that packet this summer, this is everything they need to know before starting kindergarden."

Dobbins attributes much of his school's success to the community support it receives, from monetary donations to technology advances or even basic school items, such as clothes and back packs. Dobbins is looking forward to another year with growth and success as the goal.

"We're going to rock it next year too," he said.



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