Customization

Child, Seek the Good!

“… the modern world is organized in relation to the most obvious and urgent of all questions, not so much to answer it wrongly as to prevent it being answered at all.”  – G.K. Chesterton It would have come as no surprise to GKC that the “most obvious and urgent” of human issues - our eternal destiny – is undiscussable in the classrooms of the American public school. For any child’s insistent inquiry about God or no God – heaven and all that – the scripted reply must be “ask your mother.” Thus, it is that – for seven hours a...

Florida’s Principal Autonomy initiative showing signs of success

When Robin Brown took the helm as principal of West Riviera Elementary School in Palm Beach in 2017, the school was struggling. It had been designated a “D” by the Florida Department of Education. Realizing the situation, Brown made critical changes. She assigned 28 teachers to the grade level she felt they were best suited to teach, strengthened the school’s leadership team, collaborated with education professionals who have done effective work in school turnaround programs, and reached out to business leaders who have saved failing companies. As a result, the school rose two letter grades to a “B” this year. Brown, who participated in...

Customization is now arriving

Teaching customized to the developmental needs of each child has been the dream of K-12 educators for over a hundred years. When I was in graduate school in the 1970s, we talked continuously about the need to abandon the one-size-fits-all, assembly-line instruction that permeated public education. But we didn’t know how to translate our ivory-tower talk about customization into real-world action. In the early 1990s, I was a teacher union representative on a statewide commission studying how to improve Florida’s public education system. We proposed reorganizing the system around standards-based, customized instruction, but quickly abandoned the idea after teachers across...

How thousands of Florida parents are customizing education for children with special needs

Florida's newest private school choice program is no ordinary voucher, a new report finds. The analysis, released this week by EdChoice, found that in the first two years of the Gardiner Scholarship program, roughly four out of ten parents used the scholarships to pay for multiple educational services — not just private school tuition. The scholarship program is available to children with specific special needs. It has grown to become the nation's largest education savings account. The accounts allow parents to control the funding the state would spend to educate their child. They can spend the money on a range of education-related...

Florida lab school pioneers personalized learning

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Italian music played in the background as kindergarten and first-grade students welcomed parents and guests to Pizza by the Creek — a student-managed restaurant at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School. Several donned waiter outfits, preparing to serve pizza to parents and guests. Others carried boxes with materials to clean tables. One student served as a hostess, holding napkins neatly folded with plastic silverware. A few other students managed the cash register, giving actual change back to customers as they left. Instead of assigning students specific tasks in the restaurant, their teachers hosted a job fair. Students applied for their...

Bill would give Florida home schoolers more access to college, career courses

Home education students would have more access to college classes and career education programs under a bill approved this morning by a Florida House panel. HB 1391 would allow homeschoolers to take career education courses offered by school districts. Public schools would be able to receive state per-pupil funding for courses they take. The bill, along with a counterpart in the state Senate, would also require school districts to accept parents' home education registrations if they meet the requirements in state law. Several parents told the committee that some districts have begun asking for information — like birth certificates and proof of residence — that go...

Low-income students drive Florida’s success on AP tests

Florida continues to be a national leader on college-caliber Advanced Placement exams, fueled by the success of growing numbers of low-income students. The Sunshine State ranks No. 4 in the nation in the percentage of graduating seniors who have passed at least one AP exam, according to 2016 data released in a new report from the College Board, the nonprofit that administers the AP program. At 29.5 percent, Florida outpaces the national average of 21.9 percent and trails only Massachusetts, Maryland and Connecticut, states with far fewer low-income students and far better academic reputations. AP exams are standardized tests that correspond with...

Computer coding and course access

Florida lawmakers are once again pushing a proposal to expand computer science instruction and allow students to count high school credits in coding as foreign language classes. A compromise bill that easily passed the Senate last year is back. It easily cleared its first legislative committee Monday. An identical version has been filed in the House. The debate that still lingers around the proposal highlights the difficulty of giving students access to high-quality computer science courses. Business and technology groups support SB 104 by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg. They're joined by students like Ethan Greenberg, a sixth-grader from Pembroke Pines. He...