Howard Drive Elementary celebrates ranking improvement


As the summer wraps up for families across Miami-Dade County, students and teachers at Howard Drive Elementary look forward to returning to their newly A-designated school.

Ratings for Miami Dade County Public Schools were released on July 11, in which Howard Drive went from a C-rating to an A-rating. The results are based on exam performance and learning gains.

Since 2009, Howard Drive has been rated an A school five times (2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2017), a B school four times (2011, 2013, 2015, 2016) and only dropped to a C-rating in 2018. The school is a Cambridge K-5 school with a gifted program.

Deanna Dalby has been Howard Drive’s principal since 2002. She attributes Howard Drive’s improvement to the teamwork of the teachers, staff, parents and students in addressing areas that needed change.

“We’re super excited,” she said. “We did some changes with going to an inclusion support facilitation model. The teachers worked really hard together to meet the needs of all students.”

An inclusion support facilitation model involves classroom teachers and special education teachers working together so that students who require extra support are assisted in class. Howard Drive also provided tutoring and enrichment to students through after- and before-school care, along with providing additional professional development education to teachers.

“We definitely want to improve on the practices that we implemented last year and to continue to analyze data as the years progress, focusing on the needs of all students and really embracing it as a staff,” Dalby said.

In addition to maintaining its A-rating, Howard Drive is hoping to improve its designation as a STEAM school. STEAM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math, is an integrated learning approach aiming for a well-rounded education.

Howard Drive was awarded bronze-level STEAM designation for the 2018-2019 school year, and is looking toward becoming silver or gold in the upcoming academic year, Dalby said. The STEAM program is promoted through community partnerships and hands-on projects.

“Everybody is working toward a common goal, which is such a beautiful thing,” Dalby said.

Alberto Carvalho, the superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, emphasizes that Howard Drive’s staff makes an effort to serve its diverse student population through its various resources. The inclusion support facilitation model ensures exposure to rigorous academic content for all students at their specific grade levels, he said.

“The team at Howard Drive really took a proactive approach at analyzing student-level data and using it to provide differentiated instruction and targeted interventions to address students’ individualized needs,” Carvalho said.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools is the fourth largest school district in the U.S., serving over 340,000 students, and the district as a whole scored an A-rating. Of Florida’s 67 school districts, 24 received an A-rating in 2019, according to the Florida Department of Education.

The goals of the school district in the upcoming years are for its students to perform well starting at a young age, so that this can transfer into increased opportunity in their futures, Carvalho said.

“Overall, I want to continue seeing increases in student proficiency rates across all content areas at the elementary school level,” Carvalho said. “But more specifically, I want to see the schools continue to make progress in closing achievement gaps that exist between some student sub-groups.”

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