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National Organization Recognizes Success Of Orange County Schools

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Summary: The Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS) has recognized Florida's Orange County Schools for significant improvement in raising student test scores in math and reading. The CGCS is the only national organization dedicated to the advancement of large, urban public schools. It comprises 66 separate districts. Orange County Schools were one of only 9 big school districts to surpass state averages in math, and one of ten to do so in reading. Orange County Schools view this...

The Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS) has recognized Florida's Orange County Schools for significant improvement in raising student test scores in math and reading. The CGCS is the only national organization dedicated to the advancement of large, urban public schools. It comprises 66 separate districts. Orange County Schools were one of only 9 big school districts to surpass state averages in math, and one of ten to do so in reading. Orange County Schools view this as evidence of progress in closing the wide achievement gap experienced by minorities around the country. With 177,000 students in about 170 schools, Orange County Schools operate the 11th largest public school in the nation. Part of the challenge for Orange County Schools is to address the issues of diversity that often result with minority students lagging behind. Students attending Orange County Schools come from 179 different countries and speak 137 different languages and dialects. One way Orange County Schools are trying to address issues of language diversity is by encouraging all students in foreign language fluency. Magnet programs in immersion and dual language are offered starting at the elementary school level in French, English, Spanish and Vietnamese. Immigration issues and education are a hot topic nationwide. Yet Orange County Schools remain among a minority of public schools to offer immersion programs at the elementary level. Statewide test results also show significant improvement in Orange County Schools. Results of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) for writing show improvement in every grade level to which it was administered. Fourth grade scores improved by 6%, 8th grade scores by 5%, and 10th grade scores by 4%. These results put Orange County Schools above 5 of its 6 neighboring counties. Only Broward County Schools outpaced Orange County Schools by 1%. The Orange County School that showed the greatest improvement was Ivey Lane Elementary, which showed a 33% rise in test results. Orange County Schools employ a number of different methods to help improve academic success and close the achievement gap. Among the most notable are the different school choice options. Charter schools, magnet schools, and contract schools are all offered. There are also opportunity scholarships available to allow children in a failing school to attend a more successful private or public school. With its large minority population, Orange County Schools continues to seek innovative ways to provide students with practical opportunities for success. As with any large, urban district Orange County Schools have areas in need of improvement. But the numbers indicate that they are on the right path.
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