LETTERS: It's not satisfactory to have almost half of Flagler's students below grade level in ELA and math assessments

Conflict on School Board has continued for years and won't be resolved

  • By
  • | 9:30 a.m. May 18, 2023
  • Palm Coast Observer
  • Opinion
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Almost half of Flagler's students below grade level is not satisfactory

Dear Editor:

Over the last few weeks a couple of issues have been publicized regarding the Flagler County School Board that I believe need to be addressed. The first is the non-renewal of the School Board Superintendent contract. The vote by the School Board was 3-2 in favor of non-renewal. These school board members were elected by the majority of voters in Flagler County. Since they had the confidence of the majority in order to be elected, their decisions should be accepted as what the majority of Flagler County residents/tax payers agree with.

Unfortunately, as we have seen in our country over the last few years, if the ‘left’ doesn’t like a decision, they whine and start making ridiculous allegations and demands. The same is being done with this decision. For Ms. (Cheryl) Massaro, the current chairperson of the School Board, to make public statements about the three members who voted to not renew Ms. (Cathy) Mittelstadt’s contract, showed a lack of leadership and she should have been censured as proposed by Will Furry.

This shows the conflict that the community has witnessed for years with this school board; it would have been nice to see the new board members come in and see them all work together. With the two board members that have been there too long — Massaro and (Colleen) Conklin — I don’t believe this conflict will ever be resolved.

Personally, the information below from the Flagler County School Board five-year Strategic Plan would have been enough for me to want change:

Outcome Metrics: Increase the percentage of students who are on grade level in core subjects as measured by state assessments and progress monitoring for both ELA and math. ELA: Increase the percentage of students who are on grade level from 56% in 2020-21 to 62% in 2023-24. Math: Increase the percentage of students who are on grade level from 57% in 2020-21 to 63% in 2023-24.

Anyone who believes that it is satisfactory for having almost half of the students in Flagler County not proficient in English Language Arts and Math do not have any concern for our children and our future! We need leaders that are 100% focused on academics and safety for our children and stop all the other indoctrination efforts!

Kathy Robison

Palm Coast

Editor's Note: We reached out to Christopher Stefancik, the school district's coordinator of assessment and accountability, to clarify the data in the five-year strategic plan.

The district dashboard is updated three times a year as new data are gathered, Stefancik said. The ELA metric focuses on the percentage of students in grades 3-10 who are on-grade level. In 2020-21 and 2021-22, the percentage of Flagler students earning a level 3 or higher on statewide assessments was 56%, although the goal for 2022 was 58%. The goal for 2023 is 60% and for 2024 it is 62%. According to the Florida Department of Education, the state average for level 3 or higher in 2021 was 52.8%, and in 2022 it was 53.1%.

The math metric focuses on grades 3-8. Flagler's on-grade percentage was 57% in 2021 and 59% in 2022. The goal for 2022 was 59%, 61% in 2023 and 63% in 2024. The state average in 2021 was 48.4%, and in 2022 it was 53.1%.

Flagler's ELA on-grade percentage in 2019 — before remote teaching in 2020 — was 60% for ELA and 65% for math.

Stefancik said updated data from the DOE for the 2022-23 school year are expected in late June or early July.

"Flagler Schools' strategic plan goals are set to reach targets respective to Flagler's own past performance and not the state since we have been out performing state averages," Stefancik said.


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