“What we’ve realized over the years is that peers can be very persuasive in a positive way and they can influence those that look like them,” said Risa Berrin, who started the program.
The school day is over at North Miami Beach High School. Most students have headed for the doors. But Diamante Sharpe and Erica Poitevien and about a dozen classmates are working on their lesson plans.
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.
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.
Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist have talked about K-12 funding, the cost of college and other education issues.
Polls show Governor Rick Scott and former Governor Charlie Crist are polarizing. Voters are as likely to dislike the candidates as they are to approve of them.
So both candidates are talking about schools, colleges and scholarships — to motivate their supporters.
“Education is an issue that is helping to appeal to the base,” says Sean Foreman, a Barry University political science professor and chairman of the education committee for the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce.
Foreman says they’ve got a pretty good idea what a second term of either candidate would mean for education.
“I think Rick Scott is going to focus on more spending, but with that will come more strings attached and more testing involved,” Foreman says. “[Crist] will also call for more spending, but more spending in public schools and less focus on vouchers like the Republicans have.”
So far, the big argument has been over funding for public schools. Both candidates can say they’ve supported more money for schools.
Althea Valle teaches a class of ELL's. She says of the new federal requirement, "I think it’s going to put a lot of pressure on the schools to get these kids where we think they should be."
A 10th grader born in Haiti struggles to read in his class at Godby High School in Tallahassee. The student is more comfortable with Haitian Creole than English. Teacher Althea Valle has students of various nationalities trying to master the language.
“It’s a challenge,” Valle says. “There’s a lot of gesturing, and you know sometimes I feel like I’m onstage and sometimes I have to be onstage to make myself understood.”
Valle is the ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) coordinator for Leon County schools. Her developmental language class is offered as an elective for students who want the extra help, like Anas Al-Humiari from Yemen. His native language is Arabic, and he’s been studying English for 5 years.
“First of all, the words are the main things that get me down and the time, me trying to understand the sentence and what is the article or text actually means,” Al-Humiari says, trying to find the right words.
The school’s principal, Bridget McKinney majored in debate and thought the requirements for Florida’s new Common Core-based standards sounded a lot like her college classes. She needed a writing teacher for new speech and debate courses she wanted to create.
But like many Florida schools, Allapattah Middle has plenty of expectations but a limited budget.
She couldn’t hire a new teacher. It wasn’t in the budget. So she turned to what seems like an unusual place — physical education teacher Veldreana Oliver, who has been with the school for 28 years.