Areas of Focus

Education

Vision

Before 2030, Polk County will have a world-class, fully integrated education system that supports the needs of a vibrant, progressive community.

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Polk Vision Education Initiatives:


Attendance LEAD Team

The reduction of student absenteeism has always been considered essential to improving student achievement. Historically, studies have shown that missing 10% or about 18 days per school year can negatively affect a student’s academic performance.

The Polk Vision Attendance Team has been focused on increasing Attendance and reducing rates of Absenteeism for the past several years. Working together with District representatives, the start of the 2019-20 school launched the third year of a multi-pronged tactical plan that was implemented in five pilot schools. The success of the Strive For Less Than 5™ Days Absent campaign relied upon school staff, parents, and community leaders working collaboratively to address the critical issue of school attendance.

After evaluating trending indicators at several pilot schools, plans were underway to expand the Strive For Less Than 5™ strategies to different schools during the 2020-2021 school year. Measuring Attendance is one of the many facets of K-12 education that changed dramatically as the novel coronavirus pandemic forced schools to modify methods of delivering instruction to students.

How do you count student attendance when students aren’t in school?

Traditionally, showing up on campus signified that a student was “present”— regardless of whether or not they had completed a homework assignment or actively participated in class. 

So what is the online equivalent of showing up for school? Is it logging on to a remote portal? Interacting with a teacher one-on-one or on a group video conference? Turning in an assignment?

It is for these reasons, that the Attendance Team has paused its work in expanding the Challenge5™ program.  

Challenge 5™ Pilot Schools

  • Crystal Lake Elementary
  • Eagle Lake Elementary 
  • Garner Elementary 
  • Griffin Elementary
  • Palmetto Elementary
Support at the District and School leadership level is at the core of any pilot program. Polk County School Board Members officially launched the third year of the Challenge 5™ pilot program in the fall of 2019.
Griffin Elementary honored students who achieved less than 5 days absence. With each color representing a different grade, pupils added their handprint to the Strive For Less Than 5™ tree in celebration of their accomplishment.

Did you know?

1 in 3 Kindergartners were chronically absent – that is approximately 157 hours of class time

(Polk County Public Schools)

6,671 K-5th grade students were absent 21 or more days

(Polk County Public Schools)

15% of K-12 grade students missed more than 21 days

(Polk County Public Schools)


Literacy

The Polk Vision Literacy Team is focused on improving the literacy proficiency in Polk County.

During 2017-2018 the Literacy Team conducted a series of meetings around the county to learn how to better align literacy support for students and families. When convening in Winter Haven, the Team found a well galvanized community effort underway through the Public Education Partnership (PEP).

In recent months PEP and Polk Vision have been working collaboratively in the Winter Haven community to develop better awareness of resources to support Kindergarten Readiness and the improvement of 3rd Grade Reading Scores. The Team hopes to replicate and scale the well-established PEP efforts in other communities across the county.

The Literacy Team piloted efforts this year to address “Summer Slide” at 9 locations through the alignment of the Polk County Library Cooperative, and the Polk County Public Schools’ Books Bridge Bus and School Nutrition Department. This enabled each organization to maximize the opportunities of bringing summer reading, free meals and free book distribution to Summer BreakSpot locations around the district.


Nancy Rodriguez with the Polk County Library Cooperative reading to children attending a Summer BreakSpot at Alta Vista Elementary in Haines City. Each student received not only a free meal but participated in a learning activity and received a new book to take home.

The Literacy Team continues to learn about literacy in our communities, engage partners around literacy resources, align partnerships toward a common goal, and develop solutions that we expect will help improve the literacy rate for young people in our communities.

Lindsay Persohn, Ph.D. Community Volunteer

Community Partnership School

Background info about how Polk Vision began the Community Partnership School.

The Community Partnership School model focuses on the whole child (physical, mental, social and emotional health, and well-being) and takes a holistic approach in providing supports for the child. The purpose of the Community Partnership School is to increase overall lifelong success in education, employment, and health for those served.


Talent Pipeline

The Talent Pipeline Team was formed cooperatively by Polk Vision in partnership with the Central Florida Development Council and is focused on filling the gap of high skill, high wage jobs necessary to meet Polk County’s current and emerging industry workforce needs.

The Polk County economy requires a pipeline of qualified workers to meet the demands of local employers. This pipeline is highly dependent upon high school graduation, post-secondary enrollment, and college completion rates.

The plan is to increase educational attainment – substantially altering local conditions, improving quality of life and serving as an economic catalyst for increased productivity.

Goals for the Team include increasing the number of students who graduate high school with a diploma and a direct pathway to a career or post-secondary education. This will provide a more robust pipeline of talent and skills and reduce the existing gap of employable individuals in particular jobs and sectors. Outcomes are measured by the number of high school graduates who then enter college or technical school, or directly enter the skilled workforce, or elect to enter the military.


In June of 2019, Polk Vision together with Polk County Career Academies hosted a professional development training for Polk County Public Schools’ Middle School Counselors at the Bartow History Center.

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