Her unemployment payments have been hung up for six weeks because of the state’s new online system.
And the mother of five lost her Tampa housing and has to move out next month.
John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida
Uzelea Evans, right, and Cynthia Williams, left, talk with GED teacher Travis McGinnis at Metropolitan Ministries. The GED is changing in January, and McGinnis said his students have been planning since September whether to take the old test or the new GED.
“My life has been a struggle ever since my mom died,” Evans said. “But I’m just trying to stay focused and keep going. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’ve got a lot on my plate but I’ve got to keep going. I’ve just got to keep going – that’s why I need this so bad. So I got to get this.”
Evans works as a cook. Dropping out of high school has hindered her in finding a higher-paying job.
School districts must come up with their own distribution plans for teacher raises.
Back in May, Gov. Rick Scott took a victory lap after the Florida Legislature approved $480 million for teacher pay raises.
“It’s a great day for teachers. It’s also a great day for students,” he said at the time.
Seven months later, Scott’s wheedling school districts to actually spend that money.
The raises—intended to start at $2,500 per teacher—have to be negotiated through unions and the districts must come up with their own distribution plans. It’s been a protracted process in many counties and Scott, who is up for reelection in 2014, would like to see it sped up.
“Across the state, 98 percent of teachers rank in the top two categories — a figure that should be reassuring,” they wrote. “Yet the high number of failing schools — despite all those “highly effective” teachers — continues to be troublesome.”
About one-third of teachers earned the top rating of “highly effective,” up from 23 percent of teachers last year. About 66 percent were rated “effective,” the largest category this year.
And the percentage of teachers earning the lowest ratings declined. This year, 1.4 percent of teachers were rated “needs improvement.” Last year 2.1 percent of teachers earned a “needs improvement rating.
Just two of every 1,000 teachers were rated “unsatisfactory,” about the same rate as last year.
About 14 percent of teachers have yet to be rated.
The PISA exam is given to 15-year-olds once every three years.
The latest U.S. results on an international math, science and reading test are ‘sobering,’ experts said, and show the average U.S. student continues to lose ground against those around the globe.
Overall, the U.S. finished 17th in reading, 21st in science and 26th in math. That’s largely because U.S. scores were flat while other countries raised their scores.
Locally, the results on the Program for International Student Assessment show the average Florida student scored about the same as the average U.S. student in science and reading. However, Florida average math scores trailed the U.S. average.
And in all three subjects, Florida had a lower percentage of top-scoring students than Massachusetts and Connecticut and had a higher percentage of low-performing students than those states.
Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, told NPR the results show the U.S. needs to make some big changes to its education system. Improving countries, such as Vietnam, are not as tradition-bound as the U.S.
“The current education reform agenda in the United States has not worked,” Tucker said.
David Smiley of the Miami Herald digs into the factors complicating teacher evaluation: “Local school boards and state officials are still struggling to improve a system that judges as many as two-thirds of the state’s teachers on the test scores of students they’ve never met or on subjects they don’t teach. … In Miami-Dade, officials said this month that they’re still trying to create exams for more than 1,000 courses, and expect the cost to be in the ballpark of $3 million.”
Public schools When Miami-Dade’s 2012 elementary science teacher of the year finally got her annual evaluation last May, she was confused. Despite the top honor from her peers for her work with Howard Drive Elementary fifth graders, the official record ranked Julie Rich as barely effective due to her students’ poor test results – in reading.