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Charter Schools Perform Better than Traditional Schools in Florida According to 2022 ELA Results

The debate on which is better, a charter or traditional public school, is still on, and verdict yet to be out. However, with the standardized state assessments that test students from both schools, results indicate higher performance in favor of charter schools.

The recent results for the 2021-2022 third grade Florida Standards Assessments (FSA) English Language and Arts (ELA) seems to be consistent with this trend, as charter schools outshine the traditional public schools by an entire 7%.

While there are still some debates on whether or not charter schools are better, it is evident that they are doing better than their non-charter counterparts. What could this imply for the future of education?

Let’s take a closer look at this breakdown.

Differentiating Between Charter and Traditional Public Schools

Charter schools are public schools that operate with more autonomy than traditional public schools. Some core differentiating factors being funding, governance, and curriculum. They are publicly-funded, tuition-free but privately managed.

They have the autonomy to determine their own curriculum and hiring decisions, which allows them to be more innovative and nimble than traditional public schools.

On the other hand, traditional public schools are overseen by government entities and must adhere to specified regulations. While this can sometimes stifle creativity, it also provides a level of certainty and stability that families may appreciate.

Even though individual student aptitude plays a role in the child’s performance, charter schools continue to outperform traditional public schools in Florida, according to the FSA.

The gap will widen in the coming years if the unbeaten track record is anything to go by since the first FSA was administered in 2015.

Are charter schools providing a better education for students, or are they just skimming off the best students from traditional public schools? What the FSA tells us.

What the Florida Standards Assessments is About

The Florida Standards Assessments are standardized state tests that measure students’ achievement of the educational standards. The FSA tests students in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics to ensure students from all public Florida schools receive the required foundation to succeed in the subsequent grades and courses.

With students in the state attending different schools with differing models, curriculum, and administration, such as charter, non-charter and Montessori schools, the FSA provides a level field to test the progress and education quality for students.

So, how does the FSA measure the performance of students?

The Florida Standards were created with expert input from educators, district administrators, community leaders, and public members to capture a fair and quality check for education in the state. From these, more than 300 educators designed passing or achievement levels as Level 1 (inadequate) through Level 5 (mastery) and the corresponding test scores.

Achievement/Passing Level: Fig 1


Source: Florida Department of Education

Test Scores per Level: Fig 2
Source: Florida Department of Education

The first FSA was in Spring of 2015 and the last in Spring 2022, with charter schools outshining non-charter schools consecutively through the years.

Even as the curtains of the FSA close, the statewide assessment of schools transitions to a new system aligned to the Benchmarks of Excellence Student Thinking standards. The new testing system will begin in the 2022-2023 school year, and will be known as Florida’s Assessment of Student Thinking (FAST).

How Charter Schools Stacked Against Traditional Schools in 2022 FSA ELA Results

Florida’s Department of Education released the Spring 2022 Third Grade English Language Arts (ELA) Florida Standards Assessments (FSA) report that shows charter schools outperform traditional public schools when it comes to ELA (English Language Arts) performance.

The report covers the performance of almost 4,000 elementary and middle schools in the state.

Charter school students scored an average of 7% higher than their counterparts in traditional public schools. Although this score is a decline by 2% from 2021 results, they still outscored non-charter public schools at 59% to 52%.

Charter Vs Non-Charter Schools Performance: Fig 3

Source: Florida Department of Education

How Countryside Montessori Charter School Stacked Against Other Schools Statewide

Speaking of charter schools’ stellar performance and consistency, Countryside Montessori Charter School (CMCS), a charter and Montessori school, had an impressive record. CMCS exceeded the average score for charter schools, with 85% of the third grade students achieving Level 3 or higher. The school’s mean score was 314 compared to the state’s 299, earning it a tie for first in the Pasco County Schools District.

General Research Comparing Charter and Traditional Schools

Nationwide, there seems to be a less significant impact and agreement on the performance between the two except in specific states, such as Illinois and Florida.

Researchers found that charter school students scored on average higher than their counterparts in traditional public schools, especially ELA.

While black and Hispanic students performed better in charter schools, the gap between white and minority students was smaller than in traditional public schools.

Researchers believe the results are due to the increased autonomy and flexibility in curriculum and teaching methods.

Another success factor may be charter school’s focus on personalized learning and smaller class sizes.

The Final Word

While charter schools only make up a small percentage of the total number of schools in Florida, they are growing rapidly and performing better on state testing.

Ultimately, deciding whether to send your child to a charter or traditional public school depends on your individual family needs and preferences.

But, in light of these results, it’s worth considering whether a charter school might be a good option for your child.

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Montessori Program: How to Determine the Quality?

Montessori program_Blog featured image

Although many schools claim to offer Montessori programs, you may need to verify the authenticity of their curriculum and ensure it meets the foundational standards. 

Here are the vital factors that determine the quality of a Montessori program.

1. Teacher Training

Trustworthy high-quality Montessori programs employ the best teachers who have training standards of the American Montessori Society or the Association Montessori International. 

Montessori teachers are professionals and qualified to handle all kinds of learners. 

An excellent Montessori program is an A-rated curriculum that focuses more on the learners than on the educators. For this reason, teachers are aware that their duties are to support and guide the students as they pursue learning on their own. Montessori-trained teachers do this by designing creative learning opportunities that stir up the child’s learning process.

2. Teacher Tenure and Turnover Rate

Another factor to consider before enrolling your child in a Montessori school is the turnover rate. Even though this is not related to Montessori programs, it is still crucial in a school. 

Top Montessori schools have teachers with long teaching tenure. Teachers who have discovered authentic programs rarely leave their work, thus expanding their teaching experience. 

Therefore, a teacher with a long tenure is an indication that the Montessori program is authentic.

3. Multi-age Classroom and Length of Class Time

One crucial factor to look out for is the mixed-age group. 

An authentic Montessori program groups learners together into three-year age spans. For instance, they always have second graders included in this age grouping with six and seven-year-old kids rather than splitting second graders into a different class. 

It utilizes the multi-age classroom set-up to advance the children’s social skills, communication skills, and interaction skills. 

Multi-age classrooms provide curious learning opportunities, where the young children learn quickly by emulating the older ones. Younger children naturally learn to participate in classroom activities by watching older peers. 

On the other hand, older students also benefit from the multi-age classroom by giving them a chance to be leaders and mentors.

4. A Learning Environment With Orderly Classrooms and Intentional Work Cycles

The classroom environment and work cycles are a crucial part of Montessori education.

Classrooms are intentionally prepared environments because they are venues for all learning and developmental activity.

Materials on the shelves are organized with intentionality. The scope and sequence allowing the child to see his/her progress while creating intrinsic motivation.

In a Montessori program, teachers guide the students to develop a love of learning by preparing an environment full of interest and curiosity. The students have uninterrupted work cycles where they receive small group lessons and work independently. 

During these uninterrupted work cycles or periods, children work independently on hands-on experiments and activities their teachers have prepared.

This type of structure is helpful for developmental years because it helps children to develop a sense of security from routine and order. It also teaches responsibility and independence as the children go about discovering themselves.

5. A Supportive Community and an Atmosphere of Mutual Respect

The purpose of a Montessori program is to develop intellect and emotional intelligence. That begins by teaching respect, grace and courtesy, such as how to close a door without causing a disturbance, introduce friends, and borrow politely.

Children in Montessori programs learn to respect their peers and educators as they coexist as a community that supports each individual. 

6. Encourages Independence and Emphasizes Parent Participation

Unlike traditional learning programs that direct students and expect a specific outcome from all students, a Montessori learning model facilitates independence by allowing children to learn bit by bit, with each academic milestone supporting the development of the next stage. 

The setting has the best teachers that ensure every learner has an intrinsic desire to acquire knowledge when allowed to learn in a manner compatible with their strengths and learning styles. 

Montessori programs also recognize parents as valuable partners in their children’s educational journey. Therefore, an A-rated Montessori school emphasize parental involvement because it is crucial to a learner’s success. 

Consequently, the Montessori method develops opportunities to entice parents to visit the classroom, watch, and interact with their children. Some of the ways it encourages parents to participate are through parenting workshops, volunteering in school activities, and developing a community with other guardians.

Conclusion

When looking for a Montessori school as a parent, it is critical to visit the school to see if it checks the Montessori trademarks and qualifications.

The factors that mark a quality Montessori program are a comprehensive educational model that utilizes a prepared environment to help the child grow emotionally, physically, and academically. It gives the children freedom to explore and select the learning activity, thus enhancing independence among learners. 

Finally, a quality Montessori program also encourages multi-age classrooms to promote socialization among children of various ages.  

If you are looking for a quality elementary and middle school Montessori, near the Tampa area, consider Countryside Montessori Charter School (CMCS). CMCS is truly a special place for your children to learn.

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How To Get Students Excited About Learning? 6 Simple Strategies

how to get students excited about learning

Although learning comes naturally to children due to curiosity, they lose interest quickly. They may grow to dislike learning or going to school for many reasons; one could be attending many theory-based lessons. When this happens, many teachers and parents get disappointed with the loss of interest in learning activities and attempt to force them. 

Instead, parents and teachers should learn how to get students excited about learning because there are other fun techniques to employ. 

Montessori education heavily focuses on integrating practical aspects in training that make kids more invested in learning. 

We will look at some of the ways parents can get their school-going children excited about school in this article. 

To start us off, here are the six strategies:

1. Offer Hands-on Experience

Hands-on learning is one of the most effective strategies to get children excited about learning. Research indicates that kids learn better and faster when they touch, move, and experience. For example, children who act out a mathematical word problem have a higher probability of answering it correctly than children who do not. 

Hands-on learning helps children process information faster and makes the learning activities enjoyable. Most children rarely enjoy copying notes or reading from a textbook, but hands-on activities and experiences can spark the child’s interest in learning. 

Educators should incorporate interaction, movement, and tactile experiences in classroom activities. 

The teachers can use manipulatives such as asking children to count using objects like pencils or marbles is a simple and effective method to get children excited about learning.  

Parents can offer extra enrichment at home; if your children are learning about wild animals, it will be helpful to take them to the zoo.

Hands-on and engaging activities will help your children learn effectively and give them enjoyable and positive experiences.

how to get students excited about learning

2. Find the Child’s Learning Style

All children have their distinctive learning style or one most effective for their personality. 

Auditory, visual, and kinesthetic are the three main learning styles children typically use. 

Auditory learners mostly learn by hearing information, visual students learn best when the information is in writing or graphic, and lastly, kinesthetic students learn through physical activities like sports

Top-rated schools like Montessori schools have dedicated teachers who identify each child’s learning style and optimize that for better learning outcomes. 

3. Create a Reading Atmosphere

Parents can also learn how to get students excited about learning at home by developing a family reading culture.

Reading is a vital key to success in education and eventually in life.

Students who develop a reading culture at an early age develop a love for learning. In contrast, kids with poor reading schedules are likely to struggle.

Reading enriches a kid’s vocabulary and helps the brain process and analyze various concepts. Creating practical reading timetables for kids often elevates their learning experience and ability to excel in all activities, including science, mathematics, and technical subjects.

Therefore, responsible parents and best teachers strive to develop favorable environments for reading.

How should parents nurture a reading habit?

  • Provide enough reading materials
  • Read to their kids regularly
  • Create a family reading schedule; these schedules can include individual reading time and family discussion.
  • Ask children to read aloud to boost confidence and communication.
  • Create a fun reading environment with newspapers, posters, animations, comics, magazines, and websites.

4. Make Learning Simple and Fun for Children

Even technical subjects that seem difficult for children to understand can be simplified and made more fun through creative activities.

Most A-rated schools have a reputation for choosing teaching approaches that yield the best learning outcomes. At Countryside Montessori, we pride ourselves on being a charter school that employs Montessori methods that simplify and make learning fun for all children.

In addition, we believe we have the best teachers who are Montessori trained to break down complex concepts using creative activities like word search, academic bingo, or crossword puzzles to enhance the kids’ understanding of the subject.

Parents at home can grant their children access to certain websites that convert learning activities into games and animation. These websites help children to utilize their free time constructively.

Furthermore, parents should find what their children were taught in school and create exciting stories or humor related to the topic.

Simple activities like these are enough to help children understand and remember complex subjects.

5. Teach Through Discussions

Our teachers have greatly contributed to making us an A-rated school because they make learning a discussion kids can actively participate in.

Educating through lectures denies children the opportunities to contribute in the classroom, as the teacher controls everything. Learning through a conversation allows the children to ask curious questions and clarify concepts.

Listening to questions from the students helps both teachers and parents to identify the interests of their children.

Lastly, holding discussions with your children helps build their self-esteem and confidence as they feel their opinion matters.

6. Encourage and Be Supportive

Pressuring and stressing children will only make them lose interest in learning activities.

Parents and teachers should not concentrate on the grade the child scores but should be keen on the progress and effort that the child puts into their work. Well-trained teachers also motivate their students when they get lower grades.

Supportive parents and teachers know how to get students excited about learning through small thoughtful actions.

Conclusion

It is not unusual for children to lose interest in learning or school. Educators and parents should quickly learn how to get students excited about learning to prevent academic stagnation.

Providing hands-on experience, identifying the best learning style, developing a reading atmosphere, making learning fun, holding discussions, and being supportive are some of the best strategies to rekindle a love for education and learning activities.

Start implementing these strategies for a fun learning experience for your student.

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What is the Montessori curriculum? Why choose it?

Montessori curriculum_Blog featured image

Your child deserves nothing less than the finest. Even Jeff Bezos and the founders of Google went through the Montessori curriculum.

It can be challenging for a parent to know the best educational approach that meets a child’s interests and matches their needs.

Also, have you been looking for a Montessori school near Florida that equips your child with experiential learning? If you’re still on the fence thinking about the quality education for kids in Land O lakes, this article is for you.

You will learn: 

What is the Montessori curriculum?

The Montessori curriculum is a child-centered educational method. Montessori values children’s independence, physical development, social development, and a child’s natural psychological development. 

It is scientific in nature and was created in the early 1900s by Dr. Maria Montessori.

Montessori believes that allowing a child to choose what they want and enjoy helps them learn better.

How is it different from other education approaches?

Montessori education focuses on the observation and experiential learning of children. 

Experiential learning enables a youngster to gain an understanding of arts, mathematics, social studies, and language. Children are free to make decisions, but instructors lead them through the process by providing age-appropriate activities. 

This is the opposite of conventional education, in which instructors exert complete control.

In Montessori classrooms, children are allowed to work in groups and individually to discover the world and what they’re good at. Children work by themselves and through their own experience. Teachers are only there to guide the process and discover a child’s natural curiosity and the unique way they learn.

Compared to traditional classrooms with chairs, tables, and shelves with books, the Montessori classrooms differ in that they allow free movement. Children can move from one group to another.

Montessori classrooms are designed to meet children’s needs within a particular age range. The classroom arrangement matches a child’s natural desires and available activities.

In the early Montessori classrooms, children are also grouped by age. The commonly mixed-age classrooms are between 2 1/2 or 3 to 6 years old for the starting Montessori levels, prior to moving on to the lower elementary school levels.

Why is Montessori important for your child?

  • Good learning environment. Children learn well from a well-prepared environment. It is a place where children can learn for themselves. Montessori curriculum is structured to provide an environment that allows your child to access learning materials like sandpaper letters, geometric solids, colored bead stairs used for arithmetic, and other experiences for children to understand concepts like vocabulary and discover complex materials.
  • Children can choose activities from a recommended range of options.
  • Children can learn the basics using materials instead of direct instructions from a teacher
  • Freedom of movement within the classroom. Instead of standing in front of pupils in the class, teachers move from group to group to observe and record a child’s progress.
  • A trained Montessori teacher to guide the process.

How does the Montessori curriculum work?

The Montessori curriculum offers five main areas of study-Mathematics, Cultural studies, Language, Sensorial, and Practical life. 

In each area of study, we provide educational materials with increasing complexity at each stage. The Montessori curriculum allows children to learn at their own pace depending on their development stage and needs. 

Trained teachers will introduce the major study lessons and the outcome of each Montessori learning materials to the children.

After every lesson, each child works with the Montessori learning materials individually to practice, discover, and understand the primary learning outcomes. 

It doesn’t mean that teachers are not needed during this time. They will be there to observe how the children are learning and record their progress.

A trained teacher will only come in when necessary. This allows freedom for children and encourages them to learn new skills and information because of the direct link between a sense of inspiration and learning.

Montessori educators will only introduce new lessons to a child when the child is ready to proceed to the next stage. With more practice, children understand the advancement of Montessori learning materials and have a basic understanding of each area of study.

Education at Countryside Montessori Charter School

We are an established public charter Montessori elementary and middle school near Tampa.

We currently serve over 350 students from grades 1 to 8, being one of the best Montessori in Florida and rated top 8% of elementary schools and top 6% of middle schools in the state of Florida for many years.

We offer quality education for children in Land O’ Lakes based on the Montessori curriculum. Our teaching approach allows the children to choose what they want to learn under the expertise guidance of our Montessori educated teachers.

To better meet the needs of all students, the classrooms at Countryside Montessori Charter School are outfitted with Montessori-style resources, allowing them to master various academic subjects. We follow the Montessori method of teaching.

Additionally, we aspire to build self-reliant, respectful, and responsible leaders among our students.

The curriculum at Countryside Montessori is designed to encourage students to use problem-solving, cooperation, and critical thinking abilities.

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Pasco County Schools

Dear Parent/Guardian,

In Pasco County Schools, student success includes academic content, behavior success skills, and social emotional skills. Each of these are necessary in order for students to learn at high levels. Success for our system is directly connected to the ability of our school teams to deliberately plan and set goals for academic content, academic behaviors, and social emotional norms and skills. We use Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) to ensure students achieve success in grade-level expectations.

All students are provided strong core instruction (Tier I) in grade-level standards and their learning is monitored and assessed throughout the year using a variety of measures such as NWEA-MAP, mid and end of module assessments, DIBELS, FSA, etc. When student assessments and/or work product demonstrate a need for additional support, students are provided “just in-time” supports (Tier II) to reteach and reinforce their learning. Many students access Tier II interventions at some point throughout the school year as student learning can develop at different rates. When on-going assessment data demonstrates that students are experiencing significant difficulties, meaning they are more than a year behind in literacy and/or math, they receive intensive interventions (Tier III) and supports in the areas of need. When students who fall into this category, the teacher notifies the family and all parties work collaboratively to create a progress monitoring plan (PMP). This plan includes specific interventions and supports that will be put in place in order to intervene, remediate and catch students up to grade level expectations.

Previously in Pasco, students receiving Tier II and Tier III supports received a PMP and some type of intervention was put in place to support students. The reality is that many students will need Tier II support at some point throughout the year. Very few students master new content the first time, every time and a certain amount of reteaching and reinforcing will always be necessary. The reteaching and reinforcement
for Tier I and Tier II occur in the classroom through differentiated instruction and can also occur through other second-chance learning opportunities such as test corrections or retakes. The on-going nature of these interventions and the rate at which students move in and out of needing Tier II supports is not conducive to establishing a formalized individual student plan.

If your student is eligible for a Progress Monitoring Plan, their teacher will send home specific information along with an invitation to join them in the co-development of a plan to support your student and improve their areas of struggle. You will then receive monthly communication from your child’s school with information on their progress and next steps for learning growth.


If your student is not eligible for a PMP it does not mean that they will not receive additional supports that they may need throughout the year, it just means that at this point in the year, their assessment data does not indicate a significant deficiency in grade level expectations. Students are continually monitored and
assessed with interventions being put in place for students when need is demonstrated. Additionally, progress is routinely monitored and communicated to families via Progress Reports, Quarterly, Semester and Year-Long grades.


If your student previously had a PMP in place and are not identified as needing the intensive layer of supports, they will not continue with their PMP, however, Tier II interventions will be provided as needed, their progress will continue to be monitored and a plan can be initiated any time that achievement data and/or grades demonstrate a significant need.

Sincerely,
Pasco County Schools

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Countryside Montessori Nationally Ranked

US News & World Report recently published their first-ever rankings of public elementary and middle schools. Countryside Montessori Charter School (known as Countryside Montessori Academy) placed among the top 8% of elementary school and 6% of middle schools in the state of Florida, making it BOTH a U.S. News Best Elementary School and a Best Middle School. Of the 80,000 U.S. public elementary and middle schools that were evaluated by U.S. News, barely 1,000 earned both awards.

Further, CMCS ranked as the #3 Elementary School and #1 Middle School in Pasco County!

Countryside Montessori Academy placed statewide out of 2128 elementary schools and 997 middle schools ranked in Florida.

Test Scores at Countryside Montessori Academy

Congratulations to CMCS Students, Parents, Teachers, and Staff! What a distinction! Read the full article here

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