It’s a hearty perennial for state lawmakers, but this year it seems pension reform is going nowhere. That should be a relief to teachers, which have fought efforts to eliminate the traditional pension for new hires.
A draft budget from House lawmakers falls short of the school funding campaign promise Gov. Rick Scott made on the campaign trail. The House plan would allocate $7,129 per student — less than the $7,176 that Scott sought.
This week, PBS is launching a new documentary series “180 Days.”
One of the films focuses on Hartsville, South Carolina, a rural and poor district which has managed to become one of the highest rating school districts according to South Carolina’s ranking.
Tampa public media station WUSF hosted a town hall meeting at Artz 4 Life Academy in Clearwater last week to screen a portion of the movie and to discuss education issues. Artz 4 Life is an after-school arts and life coaching program.
Big on the mind of those who attended was Florida’s new test, the Florida Standards Assessments. The test is linked to Florida’s new Common Core-based math and language arts standards, which outline what students should know by the end of each grade.
But parents were worried the new test is expected to be tougher, and must be taken on a computer.
“We went from FCAT to FSA and that’s worse than what we were already at,” said mom of three Lisa Hewitt. “We set our students up to fail…If they weren’t doing so well in FCAT why would we develop another test that’s worse?
Despite pleas from superintendents, parents and others, a House committee does not want to wait a year before issuing school grades based on Florida’s new test results. While the state will issue school grades this year, those grades will have no consequences.
School districts would have to share local school construction and maintenance money with charter schools, according to an amendment filed by an influential state senator.
Sen. Don Gaetz, a former Senate president, filed the amendment Tuesday. The amendment would require half of the money raised by an optional local property tax to be split between charter and traditional schools on a per-student basis.
Studies have found publicly-funded, but privately-run charter schools typically receive less money per student than traditional public schools. A good piece of the difference in Florida is the local construction money — which few school districts share with charter schools.
Earmarking a source of construction funding has been a top priority of charter schools for years. Charter schools argue their parents are taxpayers too, so public money should pay for charter school construction and maintenance.
Every year school districts and charter schools fight over a dwindling pool of construction and maintenance money funded by utility taxes in the state budget. Gov. Rick Scott’s plan to cut those taxes could mean even less money to fight over.
A state senator says Florida should restrict the number of four-year degree programs that community colleges offer. The programs are a growing — and less expensive — alternative to degrees from Florida universities. But Sen. Joe Negron says community colleges should focus on two-year degrees and workforce training.
A cyber attack may be to blame for students being unable to sign in to a new online state writing test last Thursday. The Florida Department of Education says it reported a denial of service attack to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The cyber attack is unrelated to problems from earlier in the week.
Last week, dozens of Florida school districts had to postpone state testing because of problems with the new Florida Standards Assessments.
Students couldn’t log in to the online writing exam — and some who did were booted out and temporarily lost their answers.
The problems seem to have been resolved Thursday. By Friday, more than half of students scheduled to take the online writing exam had finished.
Here’s five questions about what happened and what’s next.
This week Florida students are taking the new Florida Standards Assessments writing test for the first time.
The test is online for students in 8th through 10th grade, which has led some to wonder whether it’s fair to ask students to type the exam rather than write by hand?
Lawmakers asked Education Commissioner Pam Stewart that question in November.
“Are we actually testing their writing,” Stewart said, “or are we then testing their computer skills? I would suggest to you the answer to that really is we need to be doing both.”
Typing was a big enough question about the FSA that the Florida Department of Education decided to let students through 7th grade take a paper and pencil version of the writing test.
But should it be? Florida has used online exams for several years. The state is requiring schools deliver half of classroom instruction digitally, starting this fall. And kids can be pretty adept with computers, tablets and other devices.
As we talked to students this week about what they were expecting on the new test, we asked about typing.
Samantha Arroyo is an 8th grader at Allapattah Middle School in Miami. She says the change is a big deal for her.
“One thing that puts a lot of pressure on me is that we have to type it out, and there’s only one hour,” she said of practice exams.
Boys are more likely to do better on international math exams than girls, according to a new study. And the gap is even wider among the top-scoring students.