Florida schools roundup: Graduation rates, testing, Internet, threats and more

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IMG_0001.JPGGraduation rates: Florida’s public high school graduation rate is improving but is still below the national average and among the bottom 10 states, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Education. The country’s rate increases slightly, to 82 percent. Orlando SentinelGradebook. Sunshine State News.

School testing: State Rep. Colleen Burton, R-Lakeland, says school testing is going to be on the Legislature’s agenda when it meets next month. Lakeland Ledger.

Internet connectivity: Only 40 percent of Florida’s school districts meet the widely accepted Internet connectivity goal of at least 100 kbps per student, according to a report by EducationSuperHighway. THE Journal.

Threat preparations: Sarasota and Manatee school officials say they are ready if threats are made like the ones that closed down the Los Angeles school district on Tuesday. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. In Los Angeles, officials discredited the anonymous email threats and defended the unprecedented shutdown. Los Angeles Times.

Texting rules: The Hillsborough County School Board clarifies the rules for texting between teachers and students. Tampa Tribune.

Third grade promotions: Since the Legislature temporarily relaxed the rules on retaining third graders who can’t meet reading standards, Pasco County schools’ retention rate has fallen from about 10 percent to about 3 percent. The flexibility is scheduled to expire this school year. Gradebook.

Efficiency consultant: The Hillsborough County School Board votes to spend $818,000 on an efficiency consultant, and Superintendent Jeff Eakins says redirecting peer evaluators to teaching and other jobs in the system could save the district $10 million. Peer evaluation is a key component of the Gates Foundation contract, which is nearing completion. Tampa Bay Times.

School schedules: Twenty-one of the 30 public high schools in Broward County are moving to a new schedule next school year. Students will take longer classes that meet every other day. Sun-Sentinel.

School boundaries: The Duval County School Board will vote in February on seven of the 17 changes in school boundaries and programs proposed by Superintendent Nikolai Vitti . Florida Times-Union. The Pasco County School Board adopts new boundaries for several elementary schools in the Wesley Chapel area. Tampa Tribune.

Brevard agenda: Superintendent Desmond Blackburn outlines six key initiatives for the future of the 73,000-student Brevard County school system. Florida Today.

School readiness: Polk County community leaders say they are frustrated by the number of children who are not prepared for kindergarten, and pledge a new focus on improving reading comprehension and other basics. Lakeland Ledger.

School capacity: Flagler County schools should be able to handle any growth in the number of students through at least 2020, according to a consultant’s report. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Math changes: Collier County School District staff briefs the school board on the state’s higher math standards, which are meant to step away from memorizing strategies and move toward a deep understanding of concepts. Naples Daily News.

Superintendent a finalist: Hernando County School Superintendent Lori Romano is one of three finalists for the same job in Osceola County. Tampa Bay Times.

Teacher timeout: A West Gadsden High School art teacher is transferred to a hall monitor position because she wasn’t safely supervising her classes, according to the principal. The teacher will be transferred to the school’s media center and given the opportunity to improve through professional development. Tallahassee Democrat.

Positive reinforcement: An increase in fights at Cutler Bay Middle School prompts the town council to partner with the school. The town will provide funding to help the school move to a positive reinforcement model for discipline. Miami Herald.

Pledge supported: Most of the people who attend a public hearing in Santa Rosa County support reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in classrooms, and want to take down signs in classrooms that remind students they have the right to not recite it. Pensacola News Journal. Northwest Florida Daily News.

School stabbing: A 16-year-old boy is stabbed with a steak knife by a 15-year-old girl between classes Tuesday at Winter Springs High School. The injuries are not serious. The motive was a recent breakup, police say. Orlando Sentinel.

Student get stunned: A Miramar High School student who was ordered off the school’s property is stunned with a Taser by a school resource officer when he returns. Sun-Sentinel.

Guns and students: A loaded handgun is found in a science lab at Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg. Tampa Bay Times. A 14-year-old Seabreeze High School student is arrested with a handgun. Another student saw him with the gun at McDonald’s after the student had ridden the school bus. Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Gunfire cancels games: The North Port High School girls basketball JV and varsity teams’ games at Southeast High School Tuesday are canceled after a shooting incident last Thursday at Southeast. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Help for migrants: The Manatee County School District hosts a migrant family information night with free food, clothing, shoes and information. Bradenton Herald.

Opinions on schools: Charter schools are a bad investment for students and taxpayers. St. Augustine Record.

Student enrichment: Forty-five students graduate from the Success Pathways program, which serves Miami-Dade teens who have been turned away from high schools because of their age or limited English skills. Miami Herald. More than 200 students from the David Lawrence Jr. K-8 Center in North Miami go on a scavenger hunt at Home Depot. Miami Herald. Alachua County’s public schools win an $80,179 federal grant to expand wellness and nutrition classes and increase the use of locally produced foods. Gainesville Sun. Tallahassee’s Godby High School continues to build enrollment in physics classes despite its low-income status. Bridge to Tomorrow.