Florida

Putting Education Reform To The Test

Why Test Scores Depend On Access To Textbooks

One way to to score well on a standardized test? Prep yourself with answers from the textbook. But poor school districts might not have enough copies of the books or can’t keep track of the copies they do have. Meredith Broussard tracks the books in Philadelphia schools. A question for Florida is whether the state-mandated use of digital curriculum will make it more or less likely students have access to the texts.


Urban teachers have a kind of underground economy, Cohen explained. Some teachers hustle and negotiate to get books and paper and desks for their students. They spend their spare time running campaigns on fundraising sites like DonorsChoose.org, and they keep an eye out for any materials they can nab from other schools. Philadelphia teachers spend an average of $300 to $1,000 of their own money each year to supplement their $100 annual budget for classroom supplies, according to a Philadelphia Federation of Teachers survey.

Cohen and I arrived at the math department “book closet,” which was actually just a corner inside the locked and empty office of the math department chairperson. “Here’s where we keep the extra books,” he said, gesturing to two short wooden bookshelves. A medium-sized box with open flaps sat on the floor. Cohen looked inside. “Well, we found the AP Calculus books,” he said. The box was filled with brand-new copies of Fast Track to 5.

It would have been easy to blame this glitch on the lack of a centralized computer system. The only problem was, such a computer system did exist, and I was looking at a printout from it. The printout said Palumbo had zero copies of the book, but 24 books were sitting in front of me in a box on the floor of a locked office.

Read more at: www.theatlantic.com

Florida Teachers More Likely To Leave The Profession

Sarasota County math teacher Brenda Fuoco.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Sarasota County math teacher Brenda Fuoco.

Florida teachers are leaving the classroom at a faster rate than the national average, according to a new study by the University of Pennsylvania’s Richard Ingersoll for the Alliance for Excellent Education.

About 8 percent of Florida teachers left the classroom from 2008 to 2009. Nationally, 6.8 percent of teachers left the classroom during the same period. Florida’s rate of attrition is higher than other large states, such as California, Illinois, New York and Texas.

Predictably, those rates are higher at schools with a high percentage of low-income or minority students. Those schools are also more likely to employ teachers with less experience.

“Teachers departing because of job dissatisfaction link their decision to leave to inadequate administrative support, isolated working conditions, poor student discipline, low salaries, and a lack of collective teacher influence over schoolwide decisions,” the report states.

Ingersoll estimates the turnover cost the Sunshine State between $61.4 million and $133.6 million from 2008 to 2009.

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The Simmering Disagreement Over Federal School Lunch Rules

The School Nutrition Association is holding its annual conference in Boston this week as Congress considers delaying new school lunch nutrition rules, Time reports.. The conference features lots of products typically considered junk food — french fries, Cheetos — dressed up with low-sodium or whole grain options

Given the ongoing debate about school nutrition, it shouldn’t be surprising that this year’s convention—which brings together 6,000 school nutrition professionals and industry members—has been mired in politics. As Politico reported: Sam Kass, the Executive Director of Let’s Move! was even turned down when he asked to speak at the conference this year.

Though the conference has long allowed food companies to be involved, their new position on the school lunch standards have some nutrition groups and experts skeptical. And that makes the presence of fast food and junk food at the event all the more surprising.

Read more at: time.com

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

Florida Students Talk About The State’s Race-Based Education Standards

Students and civil rights activists are still asking Florida to hold black and Hispanic students to a higher standard.

It’s been a little more than a year since the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County filed a federal civil rights complaint against the state’s race-based academic goals.

There have since been a number of protests by activists who oppose lower expectations for minorities.

But to understand how the race-based goals play out in the classroom, StateImpact Florida sat down with a panel of high school students to talk about the expectations:

We spoke with a panel of students about Florida's race-based education goals.

Sammy Mack / StateImpact Florida

We spoke with a panel of students about Florida's race-based education goals.

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