National Assessment of Educational Progress
Closing for storm: Schools in 28 of Florida’s 67 counties are shuttered today as Hurricane Michael moves closer to making landfall somewhere in the Panhandle. State officials say it could be the worst storm to ever hit that area of the state. Associated Press. Florida Department of Education. Panama City News Herald. Pensacola News Journal. Tallahassee Democrat. Education Week. Gainesville Sun. Bradenton Herald. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. WFSU. Tampa Bay Times. Miami Herald. Orlando Sentinel. Daytona Beach News-Journal. WLRN. WTSP.
High ranking for Florida schools: Florida is ranked third among the states in K-12 educational quality and No. 1 in educational efficiency, according to rankings by Reason magazine. The rankings are based on National Assessment of Educational Progress reading, math and science test scores. Reason’s rankings closely mirror those by Education Week, which recently ranked Florida fourth among U.S. states for K-12 achievement. “Overall, our results demonstrate that existing state education rankings aren’t to be trusted. When those scores are corrected, the conventional narrative is turned on its head,” say study authors Stan Liebowitz and Matthew L. Kelly. redefinED.
Security in schools: The Polk County School District and Sheriff Grady Judd are working on a plan to have an armed “safety specialist” in all county elementary schools this fall. The district is finalizing a job description, but the specialists will fall between a sworn school resource officer and an armed school employee. As many as 90 will be hired, and the school district will pay for them. Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd says the pay will be “significantly less” than what resource officers and teachers make. Judd says the specialists’ job is to be a “visual deterrent to an active shooter, and be trained to suppress the active shooter threat” if necessary. Lakeland Ledger. WKMG. WFLA. Manatee and Sarasota school districts are struggling to find funding to comply with the state law to have an officer in every school by fall. Law enforcement authorities in both counties contend that since the school districts are getting some money from the state, they should be responsible for the full costs of school security. WWSB.
Budget ‘crisis’: Volusia County School Board members say the district is in “crisis mode” after the preliminary budget shows a deficit of $4.2 million. School officials blame a small increase in funding from the state, an underfunded state mandate on school security and proposed 1 percent teacher raises for the deficit. “I’m a little alarmed by it and very cautious about what we must do,” says board chairwoman Linda Cuthbert, who noted that decisions need to be made soon. “It’s certainly going to be a difficult budget cycle,” says Deb Muller, chief financial officer for the district. Daytona Beach News-Journal.
Testing cautions: National Assessment of Educational Progress testing results have positive news about Florida, and particularly several three large school districts. But they also show there’s work to be done, especially in 8th-grade math and in closing the achievement gap between racial and ethnic groups. redefinED. Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart says her top goal is to close the academic achievement gap between students of different racial and economic backgrounds. She says part of the problem is chronic teacher absenteeism. “I can tell you … with our most vulnerable students that we have our teachers that are less motivated and less capable. We’ve got to make that shift and we’ve got to help them become better or help them find another profession,” Stewart said in a speaking appearance in Sarasota. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.