John O'Connor is the Miami-based education reporter for StateImpact Florida. John previously covered politics, the budget and taxes for The (Columbia, S.C) State. He is a graduate of Allegheny College and the University of Maryland.
A parent asked us on Facebook: “Please find out for us parents of third graders, who face mandatory retention if they fail the new reading assessment this spring, how the state plans to deal with them. Will they return to 3rd grade after the cut scores are determined in Winter 2015?”
The bottom line: third graders can still be held back next year if they score the equivalent of a 1, out of 5, on the reading test. But those students are still eligible to to advance to fourth grade through one of state’s exemptions, including a portfolio or passing an alternative exam.
The math, reading and writing exam (reading and writing are combined as English language arts) is intended to measure how well students in third through eleventh grades understand Florida’s Common Core-based standards. The standards outline what students should know at the end of each grade.
We’ve pulled together the most important things to know about the new exam in this presentation. Click on the right or left side of the slide to advance or go back.
Here’s another story analyzing what Jeb Bush’s education record could mean for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, this time from the Associated Press. The story notes the growing pushback against policies Bush launched when in office.
“The pendulum swing of accountability is now moving back with equal force and strength,” said Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of Miami-Dade County Schools and the 2014 national superintendent of the year. He oversees the fourth-largest district in the country.
“It has gone too far, too fast and it has to a certain extent abandoned the transparency and simplicity the state’s accountability system used to have,” Carvalho said.
In an acknowledgment of the shifting landscape, Bush’s education foundation has mounted a public campaign to address the furor over testing, emailing parents and penning opinion articles that call for “fewer tests, better tests and tests that serve a meaningful purpose.”
Still, Bush and his allies say testing remains critical, arguing that his accountability program made Florida a national leader in student achievement. They point to record graduation rates and significant gains on national tests. The state ranked fourth in the country in improving fourth-grade reading scores between 2003 and 2013, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
About half of the 1.8 million students who took the ACT college entrance exam said they have an interest in a science, technology, mathematics or engineering career. But just 5,500 students said they want to teach math or science.
“The numbers we’re seeing are not likely to meet the expected demand for future STEM teachers,” Jon Erickson, ACT’s president, said in a statement released with the report. “Highly qualified teachers play an essential role not only in preparing students to succeed but also in raising awareness of and interest in STEM careers, which are vital to our nation’s competitiveness in the global economy.”
In addition to a national look at students’ interest in STEM jobs, ACT also breaks the data down state by state.
The report also suggests that students’ interest in STEM subjects outstrips their preparedness. Half or fewer of the students who took the ACT and indicated an interest in STEM fields met or exceeded ACT’s “college-readiness benchmarks” in math or science.
The Florida Department of Education is ready to start work setting the passing scores on its suite of new statewide tests. The agency is asking superintendents to recommend people to help the agency determine passing scores.
The new exams include language arts tests for students in grades 3 to 11, math exams for grades 3 to 8 and then new end-of-course exams in algebra 1, algebra 2 and geometry. They replace most of FCAT and the state’s current batch of math end-of-course tests.
They are all to be aligned to Common Core, benchmarks for what students should learn in those subjects.
Like the Florida Comprehensive Assessment, the new exams will be five level exams, with 5 the best and 1 the worst and 3 considered a satisfactory performance.
The process of setting the scores needed to reach each level will begin after students take the first round of the new FSA this spring.
NPR uses a Florida eleventh grader to show how local, state and federal testing requirements add up to a big burden. According to one survey, the average student takes 113 standardized tests between pre-K and twelfth grade.
“In some places, tests – and preparation for them – are dominating the calendar and culture of schools and causing undue stress for students and educators.” The quote comes not from an angry parent or firebrand school leader but from Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
Some teachers say they believe too many tests are bad for students. Around the state, students, parents, teachers, superintendents and school boards are discussing how to voice their opposition to testing.
But is the classroom the right place to raise those questions? Educators disagree about the best way for teachers to speak up.
Alexie also appeared at the Miami Book Fair International last year to talk about writing young adult fiction. This year’s Miami Book Fair International opens this weekend, so we thought we’d re-post the interview Alexie did with StateImpact Florida last year.
State Sen. John Legg is gathering experts from schools, the technology industry, business and universities to talk about helping Florida schools integrate more technology.
Today in Tampa, lawmakers, superintendents, businesspeople and state university staff will gather to talk about using technology in Florida classrooms. The summit was the idea of Senate Education chairman John Legg, R-Trinity. We asked him what he wanted to accomplish:
Q: You are gathering some school and education leaders together…to talk about school technology. Why are you doing this and what do you hope to learn?
A: Why we’re doing this is technology’s becoming a critical part of education. And in the recent years, what we’ve seen is, we’ve seen a real disconnect between the education world, the business world and the students.
What we expect our students to do is basically power down when they walk into a classroom. And what we’re trying to do is — our educators don’t want that to happen.
But to change that culture and to change the schools and to integrate technology into a classroom is not an easy task. It’s very complicated. And it involves people who speak different languages.