Florida students passed Advanced Placement exams at a rate higher than the national average, but but scored below the national average on the SAT college placement exam.
Bridget McKinney, principal at Miami’s Allapattah Middle School, says her students struggle to pass the state’s reading and writing tests.
So when McKinney first read the Common Core math and language arts standards used in Florida schools this year, what jumped out was the emphasis on answering questions and making arguments using examples and evidence from what students are reading.
It took McKinney back to college — she was a speech major. So she decided her sixth, seventh and eighth graders would have to take a speech and debate course each year.
McKinney says the goal is to improve reading and writing skills — and state test scores.
“It’s been our Achilles’ heel at Allapattah, meeting that minimum requirement for literacy,” McKinney says. “I have to be very, very innovative or an out-of-the-box thinker to make this connection for my students.”
Hillsborough County school superintendent MaryEllen Elia asked the State Board of Education for a one-year break from school grades and less reliance on test results on behalf of state superintendents. But Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said those changes would be up to the Legislature.
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed federal complaints against school districts in Broward, Hernando, Hillsborough and Volusia counties over the use of all-girls or all-boys classes. The ACLU wants the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights to investigate the programs.
StateImpact Florida’s Gina Jordan spoke with Galen Sherwin, a senior staff attorney at the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, about the complaints.
Q: Galen, what do the complaints say?
A: Schools shouldn’t be in the business of making crude judgments of children’s educational needs based solely on whether they’re a boy or a girl – that’s the definition of sex discrimination.
They’re using different teaching methods, environments and even curricula.
Last year Gov. Rick Scott and lawmakers pushed a proposal to supply teachers with debit cards to purchase classroom supplies. But Miami-Dade teachers were told they couldn’t use the cards until September 26 — six weeks into the school year. The district said they wanted to get teachers hired before handing out the cards.
Florida’s next House Speaker, Steve Crisafulli, says he has no plans to eliminate Florida’s statewide testing system in a Florida Today op-ed. Crisafulli says the state does not have a testing “obsession” and that people are mistakenly calling the exams “high stakes.”
A group of 11 South Florida school districts — enrolling more than 40 percent of the state’s students — want to “suspend high-stakes testing.” They want to rewrite the state’s school rating system by 2017.
To get a student loan at Broward College, you’ve got to sit through a two-hour financial lesson with Kent Dunston first.
At times, it’s a little like “Scared Straight!” – that 1978 documentary about setting juvenile delinquents on the right path — but for your credit score.
Dunston’s first piece of advice – figure out how much money you’re going to need.
“You’re not going to borrow more than that amount of money,” he told the students. “You’ll be offered more. You don’t need it.”
Dunston is in charge of student loan defaults for Broward College. Those are students who stop paying their loans for nine months or longer.
Colleges have long been concerned about GPAs and SAT scores.
But now they have to be concerned about default rates as well. That’s the percentage of students who stop paying their student loans.
One of Florida’s largest districts the state needs to pony up if they want districts to meet technology goals set by the state. Palm Beach County schools say the cost of meeting those goals are millions more than the state is paying for, and it will cost $70 million to have a computer for every student.
The Florida PTA is asking state leaders to consider delaying school grading to give students and schools time to adjust to new math and language arts standards and online tests.
This is the first year every grade is using Florida’s Common Core-based standards and students will take the new Florida Standards Assessment early in 2015.
The Florida PTA is asking:
Allow for proper field-testing and test development in areas with similar demographics to Florida’s diverse demographics — The American Institutes For Research, the state’s new test vendor, is building an exam using test questions developed for Utah. Florida educators are concerned those questions won’t be as valid for Florida, which has a higher percentage of black, Hispanic and low-income students than Utah.