School in Lee County, Florida Raises School Grade from an “F” to a “B” in One Year by Restructuring and Focusing on Standards with the Performance Matters Growth Platform

Thanks to the work of teachers and school leaders, a high-poverty K-5 school in Fort Myers, Fla., earned its highest grade ever and made the biggest turnaround in Lee County history

Sandy, Utah — Jan. 9, 2018 — From 2016 to 2017, James Stephens International Academy (JSIA) achieved the greatest one-year turnaround in the history of Lee County School District. How did the Title I elementary school raise its school grade from an “F” to a “B” in just one year? In 2016-17, JSIA completely restructured, with new administrators and teachers, creative scheduling, a focus on relationship building and high expectations for students, and a standards-based, data-driven approach to instruction and assessment with the Performance Matters (PM) Growth Platform.

At JSIA, 100 percent of students are economically disadvantaged. In its first two years of operation, the school earned a “C” from the Florida Department of Education, but then the school’s performance dropped, and it fluctuated between a “D” and an “F” from 2012 to 2016.

“In 2016-17, we took a new approach to everything, including the way we approached the Florida Standards,” said Assistant Principal Kelly Stedman, who was named Florida’s 2017 Assistant Principal of the Year. “We examined each standard and made sure our teachers knew how to address it, we redesigned our scope and sequence, and we began using the PM Growth Platform to track each student’s performance and make that data very tangible to our teachers and students.”

JSIA teachers use the PM Growth Platform to author and administer student assessments, and measure student progress against school, district, and state goals.

“Performance Matters provides real-time feedback so we can gauge students’ mastery of each standard and then remediate, re-teach, and reassess as needed,” said Nick Pietkiewicz, head of instruction at JSIA. “Our teachers also have students track their own progress, which helps them take ownership of their learning. Before, students had no concept of what their goals were or where they were in their learning, so they didn’t care. Now, we can track and celebrate the progress they’re making, which is creating a very different mindset and culture in our school.”

About Performance Matters

By combining powerful student and educator growth solutions with real-time analytics, Performance Matters helps K-12 school districts drive continuous improvement of instruction and learning. The Performance Matters Growth Platform includes tools for student assessment development and delivery, as well as educator professional development, evaluation, observation, and calibration. The Performance Matters Growth Platform is used by more than 1 million educators and 11 million students in school districts across the country. For information, visit


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Leslie Eicher

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