The Fabulous Five in District 7: Transforming to a brighter future

Rene Flowers

On last week, the Department of Education released the FSA and ELA scores for all 67 public school districts throughout the state of Florida as well as Charter Schools and other eligible programs.

I am pleased to see the increase in scores of our students. First and foremost, this is certainly an attribute to the hard work of every student, parent, close or extended family member, Principals Falana, Grasso, Polluf, Kidd, and Ovalle, Assistant Principals, Teachers, Para-Professionals, Social Workers, Behavioral Specialists, social and civic groups, fraternities and sororities, non-profit and for-profit organizations, the Education Foundation, USF St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg College and the University of Florida, community volunteers, mentors, The Cross and Anvil Center, Dr. Carter G Woodson African American Museum, Greater Mt. Zion A.M.E, Dr. Kevin Gordon, The Pinellas County Urban League, concerned residents, PCS leadership team members, PCS Board Members and so many more!

As indicated in previous discussions, since being honored with the confidence of so many to serve on the school board after the passing of Lew Williams, the expectation that the district would be able to reverse the course of education was always a priority and will remain as such until every student meets or exceeds expectations in every subject area. While the process was and continues to be painful, at times frustrating, and many nights were filled with tears and prayers, our students hung in there, our teachers and principals NEVER gave up. As such, the fruit of their labor is evidenced in the increase of the FSA and ELA scores.

By no means am I running a victory lap nor am I eluding to the fact that the battle is over and the victory is won. What I am strongly suggesting is that we are on our way- our trajectory -the course of action taken, changes in policy, introduction of additional learning tools, the course of action to come, and the support of the community (rallying around the Fab 5 Schools) have all played a part in the improvement at these schools.

There is certainly room for improvement and I will continue to work towards ensuring that every measure will be taken to raise the bar and insist that the expectations are in line with the district and the state- “Striving for  100% Student Success”. Embracing the current strategies with the Transformation Plan while allowing creativity within the classroom will serve to improve the learning environment for our students, our teachers, and staff.

The Florida Department of Education released the results of the following statewide assessments:

  • Grades 4-10 FSA in ELA and Mathematics

  • Grades 5 and 8 Science State Assessment

  • End of Course Exams in Algebra 1, Biology, Civics, Geometry and U.S. History

As a district, there were numerous improvements in proficiency rates from 2015 to 2016:

  • Elementary and Middle school students increased proficiency on the FSA ELA. Grades 3-5 went up from 51% to 52%. Grades 6-8 went up from 48% to 51%.

  • Students in Grades 3-8 went from 55% to 57% proficient on state math assessments (FSA and EOCs), equaling the state average.

  • Students in Grades 3-5 increased proficiency on math assessments from 58% to 60%, surpassing the state average by 2%.

  • U.S. Civics proficiency increased from 64% to 65%.

  • Pinellas saw proficiency rate increases on the two assessments required for graduation:

  • Grade 10 ELA increased from 52% to 54%. The state average dropped to 50%.

  • Algebra 1 EOC increased from 43% to 47%. The state average decreased to 51%.

 Scale Up for Success schools saw proficiency increases on the FSA:

  • In Grade 3 ELA, four out of the five schools saw increased proficiency rates.

  • In Grade 4 ELA, four out of the five schools saw increased proficiency rates.

  • In Grade 5 ELA, three out of the five schools saw increased proficiency rates.

  • In Grade 3 Math, all five Scale Up schools saw increased proficiency rates. The largest increase was at Melrose Elementary School, 11% to 31% proficient.

  • In Grade 4 Math, four out of the five schools saw increased proficiency rates. The largest increase was at Lakewood Elementary School, 14% to 34%. Lakewood also had the highest pass rate among the five schools.

  • In Grade 5 Math, four out of the five schools saw increased proficiency rates. The largest increase was at Maximo Elementary School, 12% to 35%. Maximo also had the highest proficiency rate among the five schools. Congratulations to Mrs. Falana and her staff!

2015 Pass Rate 2016 Pass Rate
Melrose Elementary
Grade 3 14% 24%
Grade 4 10% 11%
Grade 5 9% 19%
Maximo Elementary
Grade 3 16% 27%
Grade 4 9% 23%
Grade 5 16% 25%
Fairmont Park Elementary
Grade 3 19% 24%
Grade 4 12% 18%
Grade 5 8% 22%
Campbell Park
Grade 3 7% 18%
Grade 4 8% 4%
Grade 5 15% 13%
Lakewood Elementary
Grade 3 23% 21%
Grade 4 13% 23%
Grade 5 21% 15%

Now more than ever, I need your help. If you are not already a volunteer, please consider becoming one. If you have time to serve as a mentor for a child, please do so. The joy on a child’s face when they know that their mentor is coming cannot be expressed with words. If you have a moment to read to a child/with a child, please do so. If you can, please attend PTA/SAC meetings. There are so many decisions made at these meetings (school uniforms, modified dress codes, to after school activities), volunteer at the bus circle, sign up to support  5000 Role Models, Men In The Making,  Woodson Warriors or a Girlfriends group. If you are the outdoors type, we have the “Walking School Bus” where you can assure that students are crossing traffic and staying on the sidewalk when walking to school, and if you are really adventurous, sign up to read to our eager Kindergarteners.

I appreciate each and every one of you. I thank those who continue to support our students, parents, and teachers and refuse to label them as failures. All of us, at some point and time needed help to get where we are. Let us not lose our focus now.

For additional information regarding becoming a volunteer, please contact Valerie Brimm at 727-588-6300. You can also visit the Pinellas County Schools website to begin the process by completing a Volunteer Application at, or you can contact the school directly.  I am also available for you and can be contacted at

I am thankful and grateful to be of service. Just in case I have not shared my sentiments towards you lately, know that You Are Appreciated!

Rene Flowers
Pinellas County School Board Member, District 7

Please note that the comments and views expressed in this Op-Ed are expressly the views and opinions of Rene Flowers and are not shared nor meant to be an expression of the Pinellas County School Board nor of the district.

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