Gadsden grabs more A’s

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By Robert Allen

The Gadsden County School District earned two unprecedented A grades in this year’s state rankings. For the first time ever, Chattahoochee Elementary School, led by Principal Valencia Denson, and Havana Middle School, led by Principal Delshuana Jackson, received the highest letter grade possible.

This constitutes a clear improvement for both institutions. In both 2012 and 2013, Havana Middle School earned C grades. Chattahoochee Elementary School earned a D in 2012 and a B in 2013.

“We’ve made A’s common place now,” said Superintendent Reginald James, who cited the district’s record when he started a decade ago: “five F’s, four D’s—no A’s, no B’s.”

This year, the district has earned five A grades, one B grade, one C grade, three D grades, and one F grade. Grades evaluating the district’s two high schools are still pending.

According to a press release issued by the administration, this series of grades also marks the tenth consecutive year Gadsden County Elementary Magnet School earned an A grade.  

George W. Munroe Elementary, St. John Elementary, and shanks Middle School were the D schools. Havana Elementary earned the lone F.

“We’ve still got some things to do,” said Superintendent Reginald James. We’ve got a seven-A year in us. That’s my goal. We can do it.”

James said the schools get better each year. And he said the path to improving the poorer grades will be navigated by instituting the same concepts that have proven successful at the district’s other schools.

A question mark, however, hangs over how the district’s progress will be reflected by next year’s new assessment and scoring system.

“This is the last year of FCAT,” said James. “Since we’ll be testing on a different set of standards, it’s hard for me to predict. It’s hard for to tell you what’s going to happen.”

James explained, however, scores have a tendency to dip the first year a new test is introduced—but the superintendent said this is no excuse for poor performance, suggesting that next year may even be the first year the district earns seven A grades.

“We’re going to work as hard as we can to make sure we have no regression,” said James. “We’re going to have instructions aligned with the standards.”
Like most years, the district will also be shifting around the schools’ leadership.

“We hire good people,” said James. “We have one principal in our district who’s never been the principal of anything other than an A-school.”

Allysun Davis will be the new principal of George W. Munroe Elementary. Parrish Williams will be the new principal of Havana Elementary School. LaRonda Frazier-Lee will be the new principal at Gadsden Elementary Magnet School.

Carolyn Frances and Pamela Jones will be new assistant principals at East Gadsden High School. Germaine Brown will be the new assistant principal at George W. Munroe Elementary School.

Meanwhile, the district is still searching for a new principle at West Gadsden High School and a new K-12 coordinator after Dr. Sylvia Jackson assumed the director role at Gadsden Technical Institute.