Putting Education Reform To The Test

Colleges Face Challenges Enrolling Growing Number Of Minority Students

Nationwide trends in demographic shifts indicate that in 10 years nearly half of high school graduates will be non-white. But a lack of support to these diverse populations may point to challenges in getting degrees into the hands of many of these students.

The Hmong, a group of Asians who don’t go to college in large numbers, help illustrate the complex changing demographics of students arriving at American universities and colleges: increasingly nonwhite, low-income, and first-generation.

Among the 281,000 Hmong in the United States, 38 percent have less than a high school degree, about 25 percentage points lower than both the Asian-American and U.S. averages, according to the Center for American Progress. Just 14 percent have at least a bachelor’s degree, less than half the national average.

Read more at: hechingerreport.org

Florida Sets Timeline For Release Of FSA And School Grades

With nearly 3 million tests completed in Florida this past school year many parents and educators have been wondering when they would be able to see those test scores. This week the Florida Department of Education provided a timeline for release of the scores for students and for school accountability.

This was a year of testing change in Florida, with the introduction of the new Florida Standards Assessment, or FSA, which replaced most of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT. And the release of FSA scores — which were to be out in June — has been delayed by state lawmakers’ demand for an additional “validity study” before scores are made public. That study likely won’t be wrapped up until Sept. 1.

Read more at: www.orlandosentinel.com

Iowa Republicans: “What Is Common Core?”

Common Core — it’s going to be the biggest education issue for 2016 Republican presidential candidates, right?

Maybe not.

Bloomberg Politics has posted video of a focus group session with Iowa Republicans. Moderator John Heileman asks the panel (about 44 seconds in) if any of them think Common Core is important.

The response? Silence.

Finally, one man asks: “What is Common Core?”


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Florida Is A National Leader For Pre-K Education Enrollment

Both Republican and Democratic governors have been supportive of pre-kindergarten education programs nationwide. But, enrollment has changed little since 2010 with around 29 percent of 4-year-olds enrolled in state funded pre-K.

Florida, Oklahoma, Vermont and the District of Columbia each provide pre-K to more than 75 percent of all 4-year-olds. Meanwhile, 11 states operated programs serving fewer than 10 percent of 4-year-olds and 10 states had no program at all in 2014.

Read more at: www.washingtonpost.com

Charter School Takes Aim At At-Risk Students

The entrance to Enterprise High School, a charter school in Pinellas County for students at risk for not completing their educations.

M.S. Butler / StateImpact Florida

The entrance to Enterprise High School, a charter school in Pinellas County for students at risk for not completing their educations.

Of the more than 600 charter schools in Florida. Some focus on the arts, some on sciences. Others are high schools that help students who are at risk for not finishing or dropping out completely.

At the crossroads of  busy four lane highway in Clearwater, students have to make their way through the noise and exhaust of heavy traffic to get to their high school classes.

Tucked in the back of of a strip mall is Enterprise High School. The 5-year-old charter school focuses on just one kind of student, those at risk for not finishing high school at all.
You may have one a lot like it very close by and not even know it.

Donna Hulbert, Director of the school says Enterprise gives its student free bus passes, eliminating one obstacle to getting here on time.

“We are located here, really, for one purpose only. We have four bus stops on the corners of our intersection.”

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Three State Math Exams Won’t Count Toward Student Grades This Year

New Algebra, Algebra II and Geometry end-of-course exams won’t factor into students’ final grades this year, the Florida Department of Education says. The Tampa Bay Times reports that the state says the tests won’t be validated in time to include the test results in student grades.

In a memo to superintendents, Lyons wrote that the state will not have completed its independent validity study of the exams before grades are issued. Therefore, this year only the scores won’t count in course grades, despite state law, he wrote.

“School districts should calculate final course grades and make promotion decisions without regard to the 30 percent requirement that typically applies,” Lyons wrote. “The absence of EOC results alone in these courses should not result in a grade of incomplete.”

Read more at: www.tampabay.com

Why State Exams Tell A Different Story Than National Test Results

Achieve, a national education reform group, has found gaps between the results shown by students in state reading and math exams and the percentage of those who display proficiency in those same subjects on national tests. But, the gap may shrink as states begin to implement changes from higher academic standards.

“Too many states are not leveling with students or parents. They’re being told students are proficient, but by external benchmarks they’re not prepared at all,” said Michael Cohen, the president of Achieve, the education reform group that conducted the survey. Cohen added that improvements are expected with the new tests.

Read more at: www.mcclatchydc.com

Evaluation: Education Commissioner Is (Mostly) Meeting Her Goals

The State Board of Education is scheduled to  review commissioner Pam Stewart's performance next week.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

The State Board of Education is scheduled to review commissioner Pam Stewart's performance next week.

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart says she is largely meeting goals leading Florida schools.

The State Department of Education posted Stewart’s self-evaluation of her performance Thursday. The State Board of Education is scheduled to discuss Stewart’s evaluation at a meeting next week.

Stewart says she has met the top three goals set out for her by the State Board of Education:

  • Improve rates of learning and students achievement.
  • Improve graduation and completion rates.
  • Complete a positive transition to new K-12 standards and assessments and to improved K-16 accountability systems.

The evaluation cites a list of achievements to prove Stewart’s case: The state’s top-10 ranking for academic efforts in Education Week’s annual report card; rising high school graduation rates; improved performance of Florida’s black and Hispanic students on national exams, particularly compared to white classmates; the number and rate of students taking and passing Advanced Placement exams.

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Former Miami Dade College Dean Picked To Lead Florida Colleges

Former Miami Dade College dean Madeline Pumariega will lead the Florida College System.

Take Stock In Children

Former Miami Dade College dean Madeline Pumariega will lead the Florida College System.

A former dean at Miami Dade College has been selected to lead the Florida College System.

Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart chose Madeline Pumariega to be chancellor of the state’s system of community colleges.

Pumariega worked for more than a decade at Miami Dade College, including serving as Dean of Students at the Wolfson Campus. She has been the president and CEO of Take Stock in Children since 2013.

The statewide non-profit takes students at risk of dropping out of high school and helps them complete college.

Stewart says Pumariega will maintain the progress Florida’s college system has made.

“With Madeline’s extensive background in higher education and commitment to helping Florida’s students thrive,” Stewart said in a statement, “she is the right choice to ensure we continue our positive direction.”

Pumareiga follows Randy Hanna, who announced he was leaving the post last year.

The Florida College System enrolls more than 800,000 students at 28 schools across Florida. At many campuses, students can earn two-year or four-year degrees.


U.S. Schools Are Slow to Adjust to Changing Classroom Demographics

The National Center for Educational Statistics has been projecting trends in student populations for the next few years. They believe that if student demographics continue to mirror trends in national population trends, U.S. schools will continue to become more and more diverse.

In 2025, America’s schools will likely be substantially more diverse than they are currently, serving more kids who come from Hispanic, Asian or mixed-race backgrounds. These shifting demographics raise a number of questions about the best ways for schools to serve students who are more diverse than ever before.
In fall 2014, 49.8 percent of students in prekindergarten through twelfth-grade were white, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics. By 2023, the latest year for which the center has projections, that number will be 45.1 percent. Further, 29.9 percent of students will be Hispanic in 2023, compared to 25.8 percent in 2014

Read more at: www.huffingtonpost.com

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