Gadsden County school ranked 5th in state in math

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GEMS is also a 6-year 'A' school

By Pat Faherty

There are almost 2,000 elementary schools in Florida and Gadsden Elementary Magnet School is ranked number.
Located in one of Quincy's landmark buildings, GEMS, as the school is known has a tradition of high student proficiency in both math and reading. And it has been an 'A' school for six years.
The school serves 192 pre-K through sixth grade students, up from 142 last year.
In the new state rankings for the combined scores of third, fourth and fifth graders for FCAT math, GEMS climbed from 67 out of 1,943 schools in 2010 to the number 5 spot in 2011.
"We're really proud of that," said second year principal Erica Starling. She said the goal this year is to keep the 100 percent in math and improve the reading average from 95 percent to a 100 percent.
It was also the smallest school in the state's top 10. One hundred percent of its fifth graders are proficient in math, compared to the state's average of 63 percent. That is a school record high and only six other schools in the state scored 100 percent in  math in 2011.
GEMS is a academic school magnet school for accelerated learners, most of the students are gifted learners, though any student in the district may apply to be tested for admission.
Students follow the same curriculum as the other elementary schools, but at a more challenging accelerated pace. While most elementary classes start at the beginning of a textbook, student here start in the midde. She said there is a high rate of parental involvement at the school and parents are required to be heavily involved in the education process, such as required home reading.
There is also a lot of emphasis on student career planning, and the sixth graders are quick to identify their future professions, such as science, law and medicine.
 "We starting discussing careers early," said Starling, "teaching them the importance of learning what they need in the classroom."
Now as these accelerated sixth graders are moving along, Superintendent Reginald James said the district is working to accommodate them academically in middle school.
Plans are in the works for an academy type program that will keep them learning at a higher rate probably at Havana Middle School.