Archive | Achievement Gap

Florida schools roundup: Reading tests, achievement plan, budgets and more

Reading test results: About 90 percent of the state’s high school seniors who had to retake the Florida Standards Assessments language arts test have failed, according to the Florida Department of Education. Last year the number was 84 percent. Students must pass the test to be eligible to receive a diploma. The nearly 16,000 who failed this year can keep retaking the test until they post a passing score. Gradebook.

Achievement plan approved: The Pinellas County School Board approves a plan to eliminate or greatly narrow the achievement gap between white and black students within 10 years. The plan, worked out between the school district and the Concerned Organization of the Quality Education of Black Students, will also settle a long-running lawsuit over the education of black students by the district. The agreement addresses graduation, student achievement, advanced coursework, student discipline, identification for special education and gifted programs and minority hiring. District officials also have committed to providing quarterly progress reports and responding in a more timely manner with reliable information. Tampa Bay Times.

Education bill: More reaction from various groups, education officials and politicians on the Legislature’s education bill, which has yet to be sent to Gov. Rick Scott for consideration. Once it lands on Scott’s desk, he’ll have 15 days to act. Gradebook. Florida Politics. Politico Florida. Miami Herald.

Trump’s education budget: President Trump’s proposed budget would boost programs of school choice, especially charter schools, and cut spending for special education, teacher development, after-school programs and career and technical education. Associated PressEducation Week. NPR. Continue Reading →


Florida schools roundup: School choice, education bill, test scores and more

School choice: In a speech Monday night, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos says President Trump will offer the “most ambitious expansion of education choice in our nation’s history.” DeVos did not offer details, other than saying states would not be forced to participate. “Our cause is both right and just,” DeVos said. “You and I know the fight will not be easy. The opponents of modernizing our education system will pull out all the stops. They will not go quietly into the night.” Washington Post. Education Week.

Education bill: Broward County teachers join other school officials and education leaders in urging Gov. Rick Scott to veto the education bill, saying the bill will hurt the district’s ability to recruit and retain quality teachers. Sun Sentinel. News Service of Florida.

Reading test scores: Third-graders in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties show improvement on the Florida Standards Assessments reading tests. In Santa Rosa, 74 percent scored at Level 3 or high, an increase from 70 percent last year. In Escambia, 59 percent were at Level 3 or higher, up from 50 percent last year. Pensacola News Journal. Fifty-three percent of Polk County’s third-graders scored at Level 3 or higher in the state reading test, up from 51 percent last year. Lakeland Ledger. Martin, Indian River and St. Lucie counties all had more third-graders reading at grade level or above than they did a year ago. TCPalm. Marion County third-graders improve their reading scores by 5 percentage points over last year. Ocala Star Banner.

Muslim school security: Studies show that Muslim students are increasingly being bullied in public schools. A 2016 Council on American-Islamic Relations report identifies “209 incidents of anti-Muslim bias, including harassment, intimidation, and violence targeting students,” and a 2015 report concluded that “55 percent of Muslim students aged (11 to 18) reported being subject to some form of bullying because of their faith.” For many parents, the solution is sending their children to Islamic schools. redefinED. Continue Reading →


Florida schools roundup: Reading test scores, achievement plan and more

Third-grade reading results: Eighty-one percent of the state’s third-graders posted passing scores on the Florida Standards Assessments reading exam this year, according to the Florida Department of Education. Fifty-eight percent of students scored at Level 3 or high, meaning they met grade-level expectations, which is an increase from 54 percent last year. The 19 percent who scored at Level 1 – about 43,300 students – face retention if they can’t pass an alternate test or demonstrate proficiency through a portfolio of classroom work. Tampa Bay Times. Orlando Sentinel. Sun Sentinel. Palm Beach Post. Florida Times-UnionSarasota Herald-Tribune. Space Coast Daily. Brevard Times. Bradenton Herald. Associated PressNews Service of Florida.

New achievement plan: An agreement is reached on a 10-year plan to eliminate or greatly narrow the achievement gap between white and black students in Pinellas County. The Concerned Organization for the Quality Education of Black Students had been suing the Pinellas County School District, alleging that it was shortchanging black students throughout the educational process. The agreement, reached Friday, addresses the lingering issues on graduation, student achievement, advanced coursework, student discipline, identification for special education and gifted programs and minority hiring. District officials have committed to providing quarterly progress reports and responding in a more timely manner with reliable information. Both sides are calling the agreement a “turning point” for the district. Tampa Bay Times.

From high school to med school: Four graduates of Florida Atlantic University High School have been admitted directly into the FAU College of Medicine. The four students will begin training as doctors in 2018 and be eligible for residency at age 22 or 23. It’s believed to be the only program of its kind in the United States. FAU High is a school where students can earn high school and college credits at the same time. Sun Sentinel. Continue Reading →


Florida schools roundup: Education bill, superintendent contracts and more

Education bill: State Rep. Michael Bileca, R-Miami, appears before the Florida Board of Education to promote the education bill passed by the Legislature, saying legislators were trying to find ways to “consistently close the achievement gap” and “erase the negative effects of poverty.” Board member Andy Tuck pointed out that 18 counties, including some of the poorest in the state, will receive less money for education next year than they got this year. Gradebook. Miami-Dade County School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, also appearing at the state board meeting, says he, his school board and the state superintendents association are”vehemently, strongly … advocating for a veto of HB 7069.” Politico Florida. redefinED. The Florida School Board Association, which represents 64 of the state’s 67 school boards, is the latest organization to urge Gov. Rick Scott to veto the Legislature’s education bill. In a letter to Scott, the association calls the bill “substantially flawed and unworthy of your approval to be enacted into law.” Miami Herald. News Service of FloridaFlorida Politics. Associated Press. WMNF. More local school leaders urge a veto of the education bill. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Citrus County Chronicle.

Philosophical fight: Whether Gov. Scott vetoes the education bill or not, the philosophical battle over who control the state’s public schools is likely to continue. redefinED.

Eakins declines raise: Hillsborough County School Superintendent Jeff Eakins turns down a proposed 3 percent raise from the school board, which extended his contract by three years. He will get a $2,000 bonus on top of his $225,000 salary if the district’s graduation rate improves. “My bonus is going to be when every student, every teacher, every employee becomes successful,” Eakins told the board. Tampa Bay Times.

New superintendents: In a 4-1 vote, the Alachua County School Board selects deputy superintendent Karen Clarke as the new school superintendent. Clarke has been with the district since 1992. Contract negotiations begin today, with an advertised contract range between $160,000 and $180,000. Gainesville Sun. The Flagler County School Board approves a three-year contract at $135,000 a year for new superintendent James Tager. Flagler Live. Continue Reading →


Florida schools roundup: Budget, recess, ‘schools of hope’ and more

Education budget: The Legislature approves a massive education bill that would, among other things, require 20 minutes of recess daily for traditional public elementary schools, provide $140 million in incentive money for charter schools – called “schools of hope” – to move into areas with struggling schools, allot $234 million for bonuses to teachers and principals, and make changes in the standardized testing process. House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, calls it “the greatest education K-12 policy we’ve passed in the history of the state.” Sen. Gary Farmer, D-Fort Lauderdale, calls it a “piece of junk,” and others acknowledge parts of the bill will have to be “fixed” in the 2018 legislative session. Miami Herald. Orlando Sentinel. Associated PressPolitico Florida. redefinED. Accountability measures for charter schools that were proposed early in the legislative session disappeared from the education bill that was put together last Friday. Miami Herald. More school districts lobby against the education budget, urging Gov. Rick Scott to veto it, but also start preparing for the cuts they say will be required. Gradebook. Florida Times-Union. The state’s largest teachers union joins those calling on Scott to veto the bill. Miami Herald.

State budget: The Legislature approves the $83 billion budget bill, which now goes to Gov. Rick Scott. Included in it were the nearly 300-page education bill that expands charter school options, among other things, but not many of Scott’s priorities. Tampa Bay Times. Sun-Sentinel. News Service of Florida. Associated Press. Naples Daily News. Sarasota Herald-TribunePolitico Florida.

Testing practice: Orange County students say online practice tests are boosting their test scores when they take the SAT college admissions exam. College Board officials attribute the average 115-point gain from the PSAT to the SAT to the Khan Academy’s free online practice tests. The College Board partners with Khan to provide the tests. Orlando Sentinel. Associated Press. Continue Reading →


Florida schools roundup: Final day of the session, charters and testing and more

Education bill: Most of the legislative session’s major education issues are tied into a single bill that lawmakers will vote on today as part of the state’s overall budget. Testing reforms, teacher bonuses, mandatory daily recess and expansion of charter schools are all part of the bill, which can only pass or fail. No amendments are permitted. Miami Herald. Politico Florida. Sunshine State News. News Service of Florida. A guide to what’s in the 278-page, $414 million education bill. Politico Florida. The Florida Legislature is back in session today to vote on the state’s $82.4 billion budget. Tampa Bay TimesNews Service of Florida. Politico Florida. WFSU. Advocates for mandatory daily recess for elementary students are angry that the bill was lumped into the omnibus education bill and watered down with an exemption for charter schools. “This is not just about recess anymore. This bill is a mishmash of some policies that have never even been vetted before,” says Angela Browning of Orlando, one of the parents who have been fighting for years to get daily recess for students. Miami Herald. Other parents and school leaders also are urging that the Legislature reject the education bill. Miami Herald. Palm Beach County School Superintendent Robert Avossa often says his county is a “donor” to the state education budget. Here’s why. Palm Beach Post. State school districts say they will be hurt by the state education budget. Daytona Beach News-Journal. Panama City News Herald. St. Augustine Record. WJAX. Charter schools, school choice and universities are among the winners in this year’s legislative session. Ocala Star Banner. Sunshine State News.

Material challenges: Parents and members of the community will have greater power to challenge textbooks and other classroom materials used in schools under a bill passed by the Legislature. Supporters say the measure gives members of the community a say they weren’t always getting from local school boards. Critics contend the bill makes it easier for objections on religious and philosophical grounds on things like the Holocaust, slavery, climate change and evolution. Miami Herald.

Scholarships expanded: The Legislature approves a bill that increases scholarship opportunities for poor students and those with disabilities. The amount of money poor students receive under the tax credit scholarship program is increased, and more disabilities will be covered by the Gardiner scholarship. Step Up For Students, which hosts this blog, helps administer both programs. Miami Herald. redefinED. Associated PressPolitico Florida.

Sports choice: Private school students in Florida will be able to play sports at the public school of their choice, based on that school district’s open enrollment policy,  if Gov. Rick Scott signs a bill the Legislature has passed. redefinED.

Charters and testing: A report from the Florida Department of Education concludes that charter school students outperform their peers on state assessment tests in most subjects and for most age groups. And the report says most poor and minority students also perform better at charter schools. A little less than 10 percent of Florida’s students attend charter schools. Sun-Sentinel. Miami Herald. Continue Reading →


Florida schools roundup: Schools of hope, bonuses, funding and more

Budget deal: Leaders of the Florida Senate and House reach an agreement on an $83 billion budget, and the Legislature will vote on it Monday. Gov. Rick Scott didn’t rule out a veto, saying the budget was done in secrecy and doesn’t have enough tax cuts or money for education. Details of the bill are sketchy, but it does include a $200 million fund to help struggling schools and to recruit charter school companies into the state – the so-called “schools of hope” plan – and $213 million for educator bonuses. Tampa Bay Times. Associated PressNews Service of Florida. Naples Daily News. Lakeland LedgerPolitico Florida. Also included in the budget is $500 million for the Public Education Capital Outlay program, with $50 million each going to public schools and charter schools for maintenance projects, and $57 million for specific school projects in smaller counties. News Service of Florida. Politico Florida.

Title I funding: School district leaders from around the state continue to lobby the Legislature about the proposal to change the way federal Title I funding will be distributed. Legislators are proposing bills (S.B. 1362 and H.B. 7101) that would spread out the funds among more schools, including charter schools. Critics say doing so will starve the very schools that need the money the most. Neither bill has a scheduled hearing in the Senate. Gradebook. The Polk County School District could lose $15 million if the proposed split of federal Title I funds between traditional public schools and charter schools is approved, says district budget director Jason Pitts. Lakeland Ledger.

Testing changes: Work continues on the bill to reform school testing in the state. Support for the Senate bill chosen to move forward is tepid, with many senators complaining the bill does little to reduce the number of tests students take. Negotiations continue to consider details that could broaden support. Also in the bill is the proposal to require daily recess for elementary school students. Miami Herald. Continue Reading →


Florida schools roundup: Education budget, a legislative to-do list and more

Education budget: Leaders in the Florida Senate and House agree over the weekend to an increase of about 1.2 percent in K-12 per-student funding, from $7,196 to $7,220. They also agreed to provide $200 million to recruit charter school networks – the “schools of hope” plan – and $214 million for the teacher bonuses program. Legislators are expected to decide today what schools will get for construction projects. A tentative agreement would give about $69 million each to traditional public schools and charters for construction and maintenance. Universities would get $116.6 million for construction projects. Naples Daily NewsPolitico FloridaNews Service of Florida. Associated PressMiami HeraldFlorida Politics. Legislators are considering adding money for social services at struggling traditional public schools to the “schools of hope” bill. Politico Florida. The Legislature begins its final week with such high-profile education issues as mandatory daily recess and standardized testing still on the list of things to do. Orlando Sentinel. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. The Miami arts high school that produced the creators of the Oscar-winning movie Moonlight and the Broadway hit Hamilton gets a reprieve when the Legislature reverses a decision to withhold state grant money. Originally, funding for the New World School of the Arts was slashed from the budget. After news of the cut was made public, $500,000 for the school was put back into the budget. That’s still $150,000 less than the school received this year. Miami Herald. House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, tweets that the problem getting mandatory daily recess in the state’s elementary schools rests with Gov. Rick Scott, not the Legislature. He did not elaborate, and a spokeswoman for Scott said she has “no idea what that tweet means. We have continued to say that we will review it if it passes.” Miami Herald.

Drug-testing students: The Monroe County School Board agrees to drug-test athletes and other students involved in extracurricular activities for a year. After the test, results will be reported to the board, which will decide if it wants to continue. Drug-testing of athletes was halted in 2014 after a parent complained that her daughter was pulled from class, taken to a drug-court facility and tested without her knowledge. Keynoter.

K-12 sexual assaults: There were about 17,000 reports of sexual assault in K-12 schools in the United States between 2011 and 2015, according to state education records and federal crime data. And that number is considered low because many students don’t report sexual assaults and some states don’t track them. Associated Press.

Teaching acceptance: Chris Ulmer, a special education teacher at Mainspring Academy in Jacksonville, is traveling the country filming interviews with children who have conditions such as autism and Down syndrome. He says each interview teaches an appreciation and acceptance for the differences in people. “No matter their level of communication, some are verbal, some are nonverbal, that doesn’t matter,” Ulmer says. “That’s not indicative of intelligence. Everybody is understanding the world in their own way and through these videos … You can see that in each one.” ABC News. Continue Reading →