Data, Transparency, and i‑Ready.

How Florida’s Sarasota County School District Succeeds 

Sarasota County School District

K–8 Enrollment: 29,183

Number of K–8 Schools: 31

District Grade: A

A Model Data Culture

Sarasota County School District, one of Florida’s top-performing districts, has earned an A from the Florida Commissioner of Education since 2004, the first year Florida began grading districts.

Sarasota has performed well year after year because its dedicated educators do not rest on their laurels. When K–8 administrators felt that the assessment programs they were using weren’t rigorous enough to prepare their students for the new state standards, they switched to iReady, Curriculum Associates' comprehensive assessment and instruction program.

Since iReady was implemented in the 2015–2016 school year, Sarasota has:

  • Strengthened its districtwide data culture and created an online iReady data hub, the Academic Progress Dashboard (APD)
  • Maintained its high academic performance and steadily increased students’ English language arts and mathematics gains
  • Shared its hallmarks of a strong data culture with numerous educators

Using iReady to Track Proficiency
Grade 3 Math (2018–2019)

Bar chart showing Sarasota County School District proficiency growth for Grade 3.

How Sarasota Fosters a Data Culture

Sarasota is distinguished by how they share their iReady data, structure differentiated learning, approach professional learning, and encourage a growth mindset in educators and students alike.

Transparent Data

Sarasota strategically shares information, goals, expectations, and results with stakeholders at numerous levels. The district’s APD is publicly available online to anyone who wants to see and understand Sarasota’s iReady data.

Clear communication helps foster a sense of community and shared purpose. For example, when parents told Dr. LaShawn Frost, the principal of Sarasota’s Booker Middle School, that they had concerns about iReady, Frost and her team held an “iReady Parent University,” where they showed parents how the new assessment would help all their children—whether they were on, below, or above grade level.

“They were sold,” said Frost. “They realized the importance of having this information and using it to support their student particularly and closing some of the achievement gaps for all kids.”

Structured Approach to Differentiation

Developing and implementing differentiated instruction can seem daunting. “The piece of differentiation that’s hardest is, ‘Alright, I know my kids all need different things, but how can I possibly find the time to arrange for three or four lessons to happen at once?’” said Sue Meckler, director of Sarasota Middle School curriculum and instruction.

Data collected from iReady enables Sarasota teachers to put students with similar academic struggles together for small group instruction. The Teacher Toolbox gives educators targeted resources (supplemental lessons, activities, assignments, etc.) that they can use and distribute to students based on their unique learning needs.

Multifaceted Program and Educator Resources

Sarasota choose iReady because it’s a comprehensive program that offers assessments, instruction, and professional learning resources. Sarasota educators have participated in Curriculum Associates’ professional development sessions about using iReady as well as training about data best practices, such as Analyzing Data to Prioritize Needs and Data-Driven Instructional Planning.

Sarasota also has their own robust in-house professional learning program and dedicated professional learning specialists at the school and district levels. “We find our expert teachers, we find our expert staff, we make sure we provide things, and we listen to our teachers and try to find out what they need,” said Cameron Parker, an assistant principal at Sarasota’s Booker Middle School. “We also make sure in our professional learning communities that our teachers talk about data and share what they’re doing.”

Growth Mindset

Growth is a big deal in Sarasota. In fact, the district has 20 subcommittees that focus on growth and supporting high-expectation–driven teaching. Meckler made it clear during a February 2019 webinar, “Six Steps to Building a Data Culture,” that Sarasota educators and administrators practice the growth mindset they teach.

She described how Sarasota’s leaders are committed to maintaining the district’s high performance, but they’ll also be putting even more effort into closing the district’s achievement gap. “Our district message is actually this: ‘Every student, every day, whatever it takes.’ And then I like to add these three little words, ‘and then some,’ because I think it's that ‘and then some’ that takes us to that next level for every kid.”

“The data gives us opportunities. We’re probably the most diverse school in Sarasota County, and i-Ready has given us the opportunity to determine what we need to do specifically for every child on our campus.”

—Dr. LaShawn Frost, Principal, Booker Middle School

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