Hillcrest Elementary is an established community school located in Lake Wales, Florida. Hillcrest Elementary is known in the community for being a “school of the arts.” The school offers a variety of art programs that includes the following: steel drums, dance, strings, visual art, and general music. In addition, we partner with our community business partner, The Lake Wales Art Center, for unique musical guests and walking field trips to observe art and music collections.
The Florida Department of Education (edudata), states our student population consists of 685 students.
It is important to note that class size with charter schools is determined based on the average. Due to our coteaching classrooms, we can increase our student population and still meet the state statue on class size as it pertains to charter schools. The student population is broken down into the following demographics according the Florida Department of Education:
- African American: 20.1%
- Hispanic: 25.14%
- Multiracial: 5.1%
- White: 48.6%
The gender of our students is 48.6% female and 51.4% male. In addition, 7.4% of our student population is English Language Learners and our students with disabilities for our school is calculated at 7.4% as well. Our teacher count consists of 49 classroom teachers and 20 paraprofessionals and/or secretaries.
Hillcrest Elementary current professional developments have included a breakdown of the standards with CPALMS, reading and writing through Pearson and iReady. Each staff member does complete their mandatory ESE 20 credit hours through the Moodle class. The administration continues to push out reading and ESE trainings through FDLRS. Our teachers also continue their professional development with classes for leadership and/or ESOL classes. We also continue to send teachers to conferences for science and technology. The teachers enjoy going to conferences to build excitement such as “Get Your Teach On!” Hillcrest continues to invite guest speakers in collaboration with other schools such as Ron Clark and local universities and college professors. Our school needs additional professional developments with technology and using software to integrate with reading, writing, and math subject areas and not just for a web-based activity. Our school continues to see growth in our reading scores with our students except for our bottom quartile. This indicates there needs to be more professional development at the MTSS level. This will be a focus for the 2020/2021 school year.
Hillcrest Elementary uses a variety of assessments to determine student progress. All our K-5 students use NWEA Maps for reading and math. Our 3-5 students also use NWEA for science testing. Our K-2 students use the progress monitoring assessments with their reading program called My View. Our 3-5 students use the progress monitoring assessments with their reading program called ReadyGen. Within each of these reading programs, the students are monitored for fluency, vocabulary and writing. The school also uses iReady to determine growth with student’s individual pathway using diagnostic and monthly growth checks. In addition, the school also uses Star Reading through Renaissance. If there are additional concerns, the teachers can use the BEAR assessment, a phonological awareness screener, and a phonics screener. Finally, during the weekly assessments through MyView and ReadyGen, the teachers have the students input the test results so they can see the growth of the standards while using the program. Each question on their assessment is already associated with our reading standards so as students are testing each week, the teachers can reflect on their instruction.
Finally, the school is in the middle of Lake wales. According the US Census Bureau our population is 16577. We continue to see growth and have more homes and apartment building currently being constructed. The demographics of the city consist of 65% white, 27.5% African American, and 15.6% Hispanic or Latino. This is consistent with demographic makeup of our school. In addition, the median income for a household in the city is 36,285 and the median income for a family is 47785. Although the Florida Department of Education states there is not enough data to determine our economically disadvantaged students, our charter office has determined that 70% of our students qualify for the free and reduced lunch initiative. As a charter system, all our elementary school students can offer free lunch as we were awarded a grant to meet this need in our community.