Golden Hawk pride is at a record high as Miami Springs Senior High School earned the coveted School Performance Grade of an A.
This is the first time since school performance grades began being issued in 1999 that Miami Springs Senior High School has earned an A. MSSH also is among a very small group of schools in the district that actually jumped up two grades.
All public schools in Florida are graded annually based on student performance on state assessments and the percentage of students making learning gains. Every school earns a letter grade (A through F) corresponding with their rated performance, with grade A representing the highest performance rating and grade F representing a failed rating.
Miami Springs Senior High is one of 392 schools located in Miami-Dade County Public School District, which is the fourth-largest school district in the United States. Of those, only 35 senior high schools received an A grade. Miami Springs’ outstanding performance grade follows the successful rise in their graduation rate, which has jumped up 10 points in the last year.
The road to success has been led by Anna Rodriguez, who became principal of Springs less than two years ago. Rodriguez was quick to credit the collaborative effort in the school’s success. The MSSH administrative team includes Rodriguez and Assistant Principals Enrique Palma, Sonia Romero and Anthony Saunders.
“I wasn't surprised when I heard we received an A,” said Lizelh Ayala, 12th-grade student and Student Government President. “The thing that amazed me was how quickly it happened. Ms. Rodriguez made it clear that being an A school was one of her first goals. She is so passionate and has been such a great motivator for all of us. Counselors, sponsors and teachers that are so willing to help; it’s amazing to have so much support.
“We are an academic powerhouse because of all of that support.”
During the past year Miami Springs has kicked it into high gear with a more focused effort to get the kids to school, implementing things like afterschool tutoring and Saturday school. Success came from blood, sweat and studying. Hard work and dedication with reading coaches and math coaches, and mentoring programs all became vital. Some faculty members became mentors who were each personally responsible to encourage and mentor two or three students, making sure the students were doing well and, as Principal Rodriguez puts it, “make sure that their kids graduate!”
“Another important key was the Literacy Leadership Team,” said Mariana Laney, reading coach and reading department chair. “We specified and targeted interventions for each student based on their data benchmarks. This was done across the curriculum.”
Many phone calls were made to parents and letters were sent home. The school expanded reading and writing with new opportunities, like a book club, and a number of new and exciting incentives were introduced to the students — incentives like a Winter Dance in which participation was based on the students’ interim assessment. Incentives also included a trip to Universal Studios in Orlando, which was used as a cover-all incentive and a huge motivator for the students.
In recent years, the Florida Department of Education implemented new assessments to measure students’ progress and achievement levels for subjects such as reading and math. These new standards, assessments and achievement levels were being used to determine school grades this past year. According to the Florida Department of Education website, the combination of changes to Florida’s accountability system caused a drop in some school grades, with the department going as far as writing a letter to concerned parents. With a two-letter jump from a C to an A, Miami Springs Senior High has experienced just the opposite and everyone involved should be extremely proud of their hard work and accomplishment.
As you enter the doors of Miami Springs Senior High School you’ll notice a banner above all who walk through the halls. The banner reminds the Golden Hawk staff and the students to live a life of purpose and of academic excellence.
“I’ve always said that Miami Springs Senior High School is the best-kept secret. Great things are happening here,” said Rodriguez. “And you’re going to continue to see great things here. The sky’s the limit.”