A Marion County teacher wrote an open letter to students and parents telling them why she think students will fail the new Florida Standards Assessments math exam.
New college graduates are finding it easier to land their first job – and unemployment rates are dropping for most degree holders.
But paychecks are still getting smaller for most recent grads, according to a study from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.
The study shows that unemployment was down for nearly every category of majors in 2012, the only exception being communications and journalism.
Science and engineering grads had the lowest unemployment rate — most around five percent.
Architecture and social sciences had the highest unemployment rates — around 10 percent. Those rates are almost the same as for experienced workers with just a high school diploma.
But while the job market is recovering from the Great Recession, salaries are not. The Georgetown researchers say pay won’t fully recover from the recession until 2017.
As he promised last week, Gov. Rick Scott has signed an executive order suspending Florida’s new 11th grade reading and writing exam this year. He’s asked lawmakers to make that change permanent.
It’s 7:30 a.m. and the fifth through eight graders at Academy Prep in midtown St. Petersburg are lined up outside to recite the school pledge. It’s a cool February morning and they’re a little fidgety until Head of School Gina Burkett raises two fingers above her head and all goes quiet.
The pledge starts with “ Standing in this room are the greatest, most committed, most responsible people this world has ever known.”
That may sound slightly immodest but getting these kids to believe they are capable of great things is a big part of the curriculum here.
You see, Academy Prep is a private middle school exclusively for children whose families live below the poverty level and it is paid for entirely with corporate and private donations. It’s in one of the poorest areas of Pinellas County.
The school was started 17 years ago when the owners of a local resort overheard their employees talking about the problems their kids were having in the local public school.
So, using their own money and private donations they, along with some retired educators started this not-for-profit school in the heart of one of St. Petersburg’s most troubled neighborhoods.
The 5th grade math lesson at Frances S. Tucker Elementary School asked students to do a lot of things.
They had to add fractions to find a total for the amount of cake or glasses of apple juice students consumed.
Then, they had to divide the total to find the average.
Along the way, the students frequently took a peek at charts hanging around the room. Called anchor charts, these diagrams were drawn by students in the other 5th grade class and laid out each of the steps they used to create a line plot.
As Miami-Dade schools have switched to Florida’s Common Core-based math standards anchor charts are an important addition to classrooms, said Michelle White, who directs math instruction for the school district.
“It tells a learning story,” White said. “When you walk in I can look at anchor charts and see what concepts have been covered.”
On one side of Yaliesperanza Salazar’s math class at Miami’s Frances S. Tucker Elementary School, students were learning to group data and draw conclusions using a line plot.
But another lesson was happening on the other side of the class, one tailored for each student using i-Ready computerized instruction.
i-Ready tests each student, identifies the concepts which he or she is struggling with and then delivers lessons, games and other activities to help the student master them. And this can all happen without the teacher’s help.
Salazar divided her class in half. While students worked in groups on line plots, the rest of the class worked by themselves on i-Ready lessons.
Working with just a dozen students — instead of 24 — allowed Salazar to spend more time with each on the complicated line plot lesson, which included more math concepts than usual. Salazar planned to switch the two groups the next day.
Education Commissioner Pam Stewart has recommended eliminating a high school exam, making another optional and asking state lawmakers and local school districts to cut back on the amount of testing.
Stewart’s recommendations are the conclusion of a statewide review of standardized testing requested by Gov. Rick Scott.
“There is, without a doubt, an excess of testing in Florida schools,” Stewart said in a statement, saying she’ll work with Scott, lawmakers and school districts to “strike the appropriate balance between accountability and instruction.”
Stewart says lawmakers should eliminate an 11th grade English language arts exam that was added this year as part of Florida’s adoption of Common Core-based standards. Florida’s 10th grade reading exam is a high school graduation requirement, prompting some lawmakers and schools to ask why an eleventh grade exam was needed.
Students are scheduled to take the new Florida Standards Assessments starting next month.
A new poll checks the temperature of how early-voting states feel about the Common Core math and language arts standards. The poll shows support is stronger among potential Democratic voters than Republican ones. Of the three early-voting states, Common Core is least popular among Iowa Republican voters.
One of the by-products of states around the country adopting Common Core is that the standards have brought attention to long-running education debates that aren’t about money or testing.
This week our story looked at how Miami-Dade schools are changing math lessons to teach Florida’s Common Core-based math standards. The standards outline what students should know at the end of each grade — such as kindergarteners being able to count to 100.
As we noted in the story, many of these “new” techniques schools are adding have been around a while. And math educators have spent years debating the best ways to teach math.
Journalist Elizabeth Green cataloged what some argue are deficiencies in math education in a New York Times Magazine story headlined: “Why Do Americans Stink At Math?”
School board members dissatisfied with the statewide association who represents them are forming their own group, the Fort Myers News-Press and others report.
One reason is the school board members are unhappy the Florida School Boards Association joined a lawsuit challenging the state’s private school tax credit scholarship.
The Florida Coalition of School Board Members seeks to become a “financially responsible,” grassroots group that supports school choice options including charter school and local control of education issues.
“One of our responsibilities as a school board is to partner with the state… however, it’s become very clear that the school boards are really losing influence in Tallahassee,” said [Erika] Donalds, who was elected to the Collier school board in November. “We feel the FSBA has kind of lost touch.”