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Testing and Accountability

Peace, love & accountability

The idea of accountability through school choice isn't new. School choice liberals strongly backed the idea a half century ago.

Does parental authority ‘work’?

A friend has sent me a long article from The Wall Street Journal of Jan. 29. It was a report on the Milwaukee school voucher program, now approaching middle age. Roughly 25 percent of the districts’ children attend private schools, most with public help in the form of vouchers for low-income families seeking transfer from their assigned “public” school. The article’s declared intention was to determine the system’s success, bearing the end-all headline: “Do Vouchers Work?” The answer, we are told, would depend solely upon the test scores of children in chosen private schools compared to one another and to...

Hiding dropouts, helping graduates, or both?

In 2018, new rules will change the way Florida public schools calculate graduation rates. They will have to include students who transfer to private online learning providers late in their academic careers. TC Palm reported the change could cause graduation rates to dip 2 or 3 percentage points in some districts. A Tallahassee Democrat report from last year suggests the impact could be substantial in districts like Leon County, where graduation rates have surged. But other districts may feel no effect at all. That's because they don't use the system described this spring by the Bradenton Herald. Districts would pay online learning providers like...

Florida schools roundup: Virtual school, dropouts, charter schools and more

Virtual school outreach: More than 20,000 Puerto Rican students displaced by Hurricane Maria will be offered free access to course offered by the Florida Virtual School, whether they're at home or in Florida. “I am glad that Florida Virtual School has stepped up to help these families as they rebuild their lives,” says Gov. Rick Scott. “The state of Florida will continue to do all we can to help them during this challenging time.” The state is also encouraging all 67 school districts to accept displaced students. Many districts are already see enrollment of students from Puerto Rico and...

Schools of Hope — coming to a community near you?

Last week, the state Board of Education set plans in motion that could bring new charter schools to as many as three high-poverty rural areas in North Florida. It was one of the first tangible effects of the state's new Schools of Hope legislation. But a memo distributed by the state Department of Education shows the impact won't end there. Another 37 schools across the state are in basically the same position as the three schools that brought plans before the state Board. They've struggled for three or more years with D or F performance ratings, and are nearing the end of a...

A new direction for Florida school turnarounds

This spring, Florida's smallest school district launched an unprecedented turnaround effort led by a charter school organization. But Jefferson County schools may not be alone for long. On Monday the Florida Board of Education asked three North Florida school districts to revise plans to turn around long-struggling schools. It was the first batch of turnaround efforts the board reviewed under a sweeping new law. The revised plans could soon bring charter school operators to other high-poverty rural communities. Gov. Rick Scott signed HB 7069 last month. It overhauls the turnaround options available to schools that earn F's or multiple D's under the state's...

Central Florida school district changes course on personalized learning

Former Lake County Fla. Superintendent Susan Moxley set out to achieve one goal above all others in her eight years in the top position at the district: Customize education for each student, preparing them for college and careers. The Central Florida district was one of six in the nation to receive a three-year, $3.1 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Next Gen Systems Initiative in 2014. The money was supposed to help prepare schools for personalized learning — a concept that has become a focal point for Gates and other major philanthropists, as well as educators and...

Testing Choice

I get The New York Times. Each morning, it identifies the world's battlegrounds — military and ideological, political and economic. I discount and forgive its plainly "liberal" bent. If I owned a paper, it would have a tone of sorts. But there are limits. One, I suggest, is the duty of all media, at an ethical minimum, to recognize, if only to dismiss, plausible arguments on all sides of any public issue. Readers deserve to know the writer's pre-judgments. The Times is a collection of heady folk; one expects the best from them. Sadly, along with most of their profession, they have remained silent...