Advanced Placement testing anxieties, a revved-up graduation, next year’s lessons and more

AP test time limits: Advanced Placement testing in the coronavirus world begins May 11, with 45-minute exams taken by homebound students who can use their books and notes instead of the carefully monitored three- to four-hour exams taken at school. The multiple choice section has been eliminated, and a focus will be placed on one or two essay questions. The changes are prompting anxiety in students, who are worried whether they’ll have enough time, whether they’ll have interruptions at home, and whether their technology will do what it’s supposed to do. “What if my laptop doesn’t work? What if it doesn’t send?” said Shruti Patel, a senior at Mitchell High in Pasco County. “That’s the thing that’s scaring me the most.” The testing concludes May 22. Tampa Bay Times.

Graduation plans: Seniors at Flagler-Palm Coast and Matanzas high schools will graduate by taking a victory lap at Daytona International Speedway on May 31. A committee of Flagler County students, staff and district officials came up with the idea after their traditional graduation ceremonies were threatened by the coronavirus outbreak. Students will be announced on the speedway’s loudspeaker, and with all the family members that can fit in one car will drive down the speedway’s stretch, cross the finish line and get a diploma. The ceremonies will be shown live on Facebook and the district’s website. “We’re just over the moon that the speedway stepped up reached out and offered their facility,” said school board member Colleen Conklin. “It’s really quite amazing.” Daytona Beach News-Journal. Flagler Live. Broward County’s virtual graduations will be held June 15-28, and will be streamed online and broadcast on TV. District officials said they’re also working on additional ways to recognize students. WPLG. Alachua County students and their families are being surveyed on what kind of graduation ceremonies they prefer. Gainesville Sun. The Franklin County School District will hold a graduation celebration parade May 22, followed by a commencement ceremony at the Mikel Clark Sports Complex-Football Field. WJHG.

Next year’s lessons: A divide is developing between U.S. teachers and administrators about where to resume instruction if and when schools open in the fall. Sixty-five percent of teachers said learning should pick up with “regularly scheduled” lessons, according to a survey conducted by the Collaborative for Student Success. But 61 percent of administrators want the new school year to start with a review of the concepts studied in April as a way to mitigate learning loss. Education Dive.

Summer school questions: With time running out on the school year, decisions will have to be made quickly about summer school. Should it be mandatory or voluntary? Should it be held remotely or in person? Districts across the nation are coming to different conclusions. In Miami-Dade, the largest school district in Florida, officials have decided that summer school will start with virtual learning, targeting students with disabilities or those who missed a lot of school. By the end of July, district officials want to open schools for students “demonstrating low levels of academic performance,” English learners and students with disabilities. WOFL. Chalkbeat.

Disappearing day-cares? Florida is at risk of losing 56 percent of the state’s preschools without increased federal aid, according to a recent survey by the Bipartisan Policy Center. More than 60 percent of U.S. child-care centers have already closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the National Association for the Education of Young Children said that just 11 percent of preschools could survive an extended closure without government support. If those 56 percent can’t make it, the report indicates, nearly 420,000 slots for preschoolers would disappear. WTVJ.

Back to work: Marion County School District employees who can’t work from home, such as custodians, bus drivers and painters, must report to work today, district officials said. If they can’t, they can use personal leave time, including two weeks of federally funded medical leave. Teacher who have been online with classes for students can return to their classrooms to continue remote instruction if they choose to. Ocala Star-Banner.

More on the coronavirus: More than 5,000 students in Orange and Osceola counties have yet to sign in for online education, and district officials said they’ve had no luck contacting them. “We still know we have a few children who are missing in action,” said Orange County Superintendent Barbara Jenkins. Spectrum News 13. Seminole County school officials said adjusting to online learning was difficult, but they’re making improvements and will be prepared if remote education has to continue in the fall. Spectrum News 13. The digital divide between Florida urban and rural areas has been magnified by the move to online education for schools. WFSU. Did closing schools help slow the spread of the coronavirus? Two Norwegian researchers plan to find out. New York Times. The Foundation for Leon County Schools is buying 300 laptops for students who need one to continue their education online. Tallahassee Democrat. Students in Volusia and Palm Beach counties are getting help through “adopt a senior” programs. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Palm Beach Post. The Palm Beach County School District has set up a mental health helpline for students struggling with changes brought on by the pandemic. WPTV. A Manatee County graduating high school senior describes how the coronavirus pandemic has put her life on hold. Bradenton Herald. An Orange County DJ holds a prom for high school students through the teleconferencing program Zoom. WKMG. School districts, organizations and individuals continue to feed low-income students while schools are closed. Florida Department of AgricultureFlorida Department of Education. Boca Raton Tribune. WGFL. Gainesville Sun.

School boundaries: Lake County School Board members have given preliminary approval to a pair of school attendance boundary changes for the next academic year. The changes would affect only students moving into two new residential developments. Future students from the Hills of Minneola development who would have gone to Astatula Elementary would instead go to Minneola Charter Elementary. And the future students in the Wellness Way development who would have gone to Lost Lake Elementary are to be rezoned for Sawgrass Bay Elementary. Daily Commercial.

School elections: Billy Shows, an educator in the Lafayette County School District for the past 28 years, has announced he’s running for the superintendent’s position. He’s challenging incumbent Robert Edwards, who was first elected in 2012. Branford News.

Personnel moves: Michele Wheeler has been named the principal of the Marco Island Charter Middle School in Collier County. Wheeler, who is currently the school’s assistant principal, takes over July 1 for the retiring George Abounader. Naples Daily News.

Bond outlook falls: Fitch Ratings has dropped the outlook on Broward County School Board certificates of participation from stable to negative. Nearly $200 million worth of certificates are expected to be sold May 7 to pay for school improvements. Fitch officials said they expect state revenues to decline because of the coronavirus pandemic, affecting school funding. Fitch Ratings.

Opinions on schools: It’s time for states and school districts to embrace distance learning — and not just because of the coronavirus. Jeb Bush, Washington Post. State governors should choose to spend their federal coronavirus relief aid in a student-centered and targeted way instead of letting the education bureaucracies absorb it. Ginny Gentles, RealClear Education. The coronavirus may have deprived high school seniors of Grad Bash, prom, and a traditional graduation ceremony with all the gravitas of pomp and circumstance, but not of their Class of 2020 spirit. Fabiola Santiago, Miami Herald.

Student enrichment: Craig McFarland, the valedictorian of the senior class at Stanton College Preparatory School in Jacksonville who was accepted into all eight Ivy League schools as well as Stanford, made his college selection last weekend. He’s going to Yale. Florida Times-Union. Eleven Polk County high school seniors are named Silver Garland Award winners for their community service. Lakeland Ledger.

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