Florida

Putting Education Reform To The Test

John O'Connor

Reporter

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.

Study: More High School Math And Science Requirements, More Dropouts

Washington University researchers found the more states added math and science requirements, the more likely students were to drop out of school.

jeremy512 / flickr

Washington University researchers found the more states added math and science requirements, the more likely students were to drop out of school.

Adding more math and science courses to high school graduation requirements made students more likely to drop out, according to a recently published study by Washington University researchers.

The study compared course requirement changes between 1980 and 1999. Florida was among a group of states with the most required math and science courses — six. Proponents argue that requiring tougher courses — rigor, in edubuzzspeak — better prepares all students for college or a post high school career.

But the Washington University researchers found no rising tide.

“We observed no evidence of broad benefit related to increases in mathematics and science [high school course graduation requirements],” the researchers wrote.

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Union Says Private School Scholarship Expansion Unconstitutional

The Florida Education Association says a bill expanding a state private school scholarship program violates the Florida Constitution. The lawsuit argues there’s no “logical or natural connection” between the bill’s various education provisions, and violates a requirement all bills deal with a single subject.


The lawsuit from the Florida Education Association raises concerns about the way SB 850 became law. Some of the bill’s more contentious provisions, including the voucher expansion and the scholarship accounts, started out as stand-alone proposals that had difficulty finding support. They were added to a bill establishing collegiate high schools on the second-to-last day of the legislative session.

“This was a sneaky way for the legislative leaders to enact measures that had already failed,” Florida Education Association Vice President Joanne McCall said Wednesday. “It is an outrage that corporate voucher expansion was tacked into an unrelated bill and slipped into law on the final day of session.”

Read more at: www.tampabay.com

Students React To The Closure Of A Giant For-Profit College

Corinthian Colleges, the parent company of Everest University, has agreed to sell or close all its campuses. This campus is Boston will close. Florida campuses will be sold.

Kirk Carapezza / WGBH

Corinthian Colleges, the parent company of Everest University, has agreed to sell or close all its campuses. This campus is Boston will close. Florida campuses will be sold.

After a long reign as the fastest-growing and most problematic sector in higher education, for-profit colleges are on the ropes.

This week the U.S. Department of Education announced that it will review how federal student aid is administered at one of the country’s largest for-profit colleges, the University of Phoenix. Owned by the publicly traded Apollo Group, the University of Phoenix enrolls over 200,000 students, rivaling the size of the nation’s largest public university system.

Between 2000 and 2010, enrollment at the nation’s for-profit colleges quadrupled, peaking at 1.7 million — or about 1 in 10 college students. These colleges benefited from both the Internet boom and the relaxing of credit in the run-up to the financial crisis. They spent serious money on advertising and marketing, targeting working and low-income adults with convenient online programs and the promise of job opportunities, and sometimes lending them private student loans. But the sector has been plagued by repeated allegations of financial mismanagement, fraud and abuse. For-profit colleges have been the target of class action lawsuits, congressional investigations and probes by state attorneys general.

The Department of Education controls the purse strings for these institutions, because they’re highly dependent on federal student aid for revenue. to another big for-profit, Corinthian, after that college reported errors in enrollment and job placement figures and failed to comply with record requests. Unable to operate with even a temporary cash freeze, Corinthian struck a deal with the Department of Education earlier this month to sell or close all of its campuses.

 

The Department of Education controls the purse strings for these institutions, because they’re highly dependent on federal student aid for revenue. Last month the department halted funding to another big for-profit, Corinthian, after that college reported errors in enrollment and job placement figures and failed to comply with record requests. Unable to operate with even a temporary cash freeze, Corinthian struck a deal with the Department of Education earlier this month to sell or close all of its campuses.

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How Manatee County Schools Are Training Teachers To Use Student Data

Manatee County schools are holding summer sessions to train teachers how to set goals — and then use classroom data to meet those targets.


On Monday, the district began the first of eight two-day data team training sessions to help school administrators and teachers use and analyze data to make smarter classroom decisions. About 36 people are participating in each of the eight sessions, which will run through early August.

Ianiska presented participants with a leading and learning chart. She asked officials to identify where they thought they fell on the chart, which could help identify problems and where to start making strides. Ianiska went through a number of steps for school administrators to take to help keep their goals on track.

“You have to link everything back to your needs and your goals,” she said.

Read more at: www.bradenton.com

The Science Supporting Starting High School Classes Later In The Morning

 

New research provides some support for Florida school leaders who want high schools to start later.

Diana Schnuth / Flickr

New research provides some support for Florida school leaders who want high schools to start later.

Blame science – and not your teenager – if they’re slow starters in the morning.

Teenagers just can’t get eight hours of sleep if high schools starts much before 8 a.m.

University of Minnesota researcher Kyla Wahlstrom said that’s because adolescents go through something called the sleep phase shift.

“Teenagers are basically unable to fall asleep on a regular basis every night, say, before 10:45 or 11,” Wahlstrom said. “It’s just a biologic almost impossibility.”

It’s why Wahlstrom and others said high schools should start later to allow students to get eight hours of sleep. She studied 9,000 high school students in three states.

The debate about when high school classes should start has gained steam across the state. Last year, state Rep. Matt Gaetz filed a bill which would prevent classes from starting before 8 a.m. Gaetz withdrew his bill, but lawmakers have asked a state agency to study the idea.

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Feds Studying Whether Khan Academy Videos Make A Difference

The U.S. Department of Education is launching a $3 million study of Khan Academy’s online math videos. The study will track California community college students to see if Khan Academy videos make it more likely they complete Algebra 1.

Khan Academy, a nonprofit online tutoring library featuring video lessons and diagnostic tools, has exploded in popularity since founder and former hedge-fund manager Salman Khan started calling for teachers to use it to give students lectures at home to free class time for more hands-on projects. The site’s video lessons later came under criticism for faulty explanations in some videos, but it gained additional traction with lessons aligned to the Common Core State Standards and test-prep for the SAT.

“Until now, there has never been a rigorous, large-scale efficacy study of Khan Academy, in community colleges or in K-12 settings,” Schneider said in a statement on the evaluation. “WestEd looks forward to evaluating the effectiveness of Khan Academy’s resources in improving community college students’ algebra achievement.”

Read more at: blogs.edweek.org

More Schools Earn Failing Grades As Florida Prepares For Common Core Switch

The Florida Department of Education has released 2014 school grades for Florida elementary and middle schools.

chrisinplymouth / Flickr

The Florida Department of Education has released 2014 school grades for Florida elementary and middle schools.

More Florida elementary and middle schools earned an F rating this year, according to preliminary public school grades released Friday.

But the number of schools earning the state’s highest rating also increased this year.

“The increase in the number of schools earning an ‘A’ this year is great news for students and teachers who have worked hard for this success,”  Commissioner Pam Stewart said in a statement. “I appreciate the work by the educators and families and students and know they will continue to improve in the future even as we transition to a new grading system.”

The is the final year schools will earn grades based in part on results from FCAT exams. Next year the state switches to the Florida Standards Assessment, which will test students on Florida’s Common Core-based standards.

Department of Education officials pointed out 116 schools improved by at least two letter grades.

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Fewer Students Returning For Second Year Of College

The percentage of students returning to school after their first year of college has declined since 2009, according to new data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Overall, 68.7 percent of students returned for a second year of college — down 1.2 percentage points. Four-year private colleges saw the biggest drop, while the percentage of students returning for a second year increased at four-year for-profit colleges.


According to the report, which was released today, 68.7 percent of students who first enrolled in the fall of 2012 returned to any U.S. institution the following fall. That number, which is the national “persistence” rate, was down from 69.9 percent for students who enrolled in 2009.

The 1.2 percentage point dip is substantial, as it applies to a total enrollment of 3.1 million students. That means an additional 37,000 students last fall would still be enrolled under the 2009 persistence rate. The largest decline was among young students who were just out of high school.

Improving student retention was a heavy focus during the four-year period the center studied, with increasing attention by policy makers, accreditors and many college leaders.

Read more at: www.insidehighered.com

Read The Federal Plan To Expand Wireless Internet Access At Schools

The Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to vote tomorrow on a plan to emphasize wireless Internet connections.

Stephen Melkisethian / Flickr

The Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to vote tomorrow on a plan to emphasize wireless Internet connections.

Tomorrow the Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to vote on a plan that would add $2 billion over two years to help schools and libraries purchase high-speed wireless Internet access.

The plan’s full details are not public, but the agency has published a short summary of the proposed changes.

The plan has three broad goals:

  • Expand the amount of grants available to help school purchase and maintain wireless Internet networks.
  • Change eligibility to broaden the number of schools and libraries that can receive grants.
  • Make the program simpler and faster for participating schools and libraries.

A Republican FCC commissioner and two Democratic senators have questioned the proposal this week. FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai said the plan numbers “don’t add up” and that the changes would mean higher charges on phone bills. U.S. Sen. John D. Rockefeller,  of West Virginia, and Edwrd Markey,  of Massachusetts, were concerned emphasizing wireless would come at the expense of funding for other, wired broadband Internet connections.

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Former Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett Reaches Ethics Deal

Former Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett.

Gina Jordan/StateImpact Florida

Former Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett.

Former Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett will pay a $5,000 fine as part of a proposed deal with Indiana ethics investigators, according to a copy of the agreement obtained by the Associated Press.

Bennett admits using state resources for his 2012 reelection campaign. But Bennett was also cleared of any ethics violations related to changes he sought to Indiana’s school grading formula in 2012.

Emails showed Bennett, A Republican, asked staff to adjust the state formula after learning an Indiana charter school would receive a lower than expected grade. The school was founded by a prominent political donor who favored Republicans in statewide races.

Bennett quickly resigned as Florida’s schools chief in August last year after the Associated Press published those emails.

The settlement would help provide clearer rules about allowed use of state resources, Bennett said in a statement.

The Indiana Ethics Commission will consider the deal today. Read the full story here.

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