Putting Education Reform To The Test

UCF Trying To Meet Growing Student Mental Health Needs

Increased demand for mental health services for students at the University of Central Florida has grown so rapidly supply closets have been converted into therapists’ offices. UCF is one of many colleges straining to keep up with student mental health issues by creating workshops like “Anxiety 101.”

Anxiety has now surpassed depression as the most common mental health diagnosis among college students, though depression, too, is on the rise. More than half of students visiting campus clinics cite anxiety as a health concern, according to a recent study of more than 100,000 students nationwide by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State.

Read more at: well.blogs.nytimes.com

Feds Give More Flexibility To South Florida Tribal School

The US Departments of Education and Interior have decided to waive some of the requirements associated with the federal No Child Left Behind law for the Miccosukee Indian School in South Florida. Officials say they made the move in hopes of increasing school flexibility and increasing student achievement.

“We want something that is profoundly different for Indian children than what we’ve had in the past – and that is all about tribal self-governance, self-determination,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. “And it starts with making sure that the people that care most deeply about these children are the people that are making decisions for them.”

Read more at: www.mcclatchydc.com

Gov. Scott Pushes Lawmakers On School Funding

Gov. Rick Scott spoke at a Miami elementary school to urge lawmakers to increase school funding.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Gov. Rick Scott spoke at a Miami elementary school to urge lawmakers to increase school funding.

Gov. Rick Scott visited a Miami elementary school Monday to ask lawmakers to meet his request for school funding.

Lawmakers return to Tallahassee today to finish the budget. The big disagreement is how to pay for health care. And that could affect how much money is left for education.

Scott opposes expanding the state-run Medicaid program. He says there’s more than enough money for to set per-student funding at $7,176, an all-time high unadjusted for inflation.

“We have a $1.8 billion dollar surplus,” Scott says. “A $1.8 billion dollar surplus. Ok. We can invest. We can have record funding for K-12 education. We can do the tax cuts. We will continue to get, keep continuing our economy. And we can make sure we have all the safety nets we need.”

But Senate Education chairman John Legg says that isn’t true.

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How The Internet Is Helping Florida Students Pay For Their Education

Ashley Jean has enrolled in a global studies program at Long Island University. Now she's trying to raise money to help pay for travel costs.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Ashley Jean has enrolled in a global studies program at Long Island University. Now she's trying to raise money to help pay for travel costs.

Ashley Jean is graduating from Miami’s iPrep Academy this week. And then she’s planning to travel the world.

Jean will start a global studies program through Long Island University that will eventually take her to places like Costa Rica, Australia, Bali and Spain.

That’s a lot of plane tickets.

“I don’t want money to be a reason why I can’t change my life,” Jean says, “so I have to work hard to do what I can to get this program.”

Like a growing number of college students, Jean is turning to crowdfunding sites to help her raise money for college. The sites let users search by location or topic and donate directly to causes they like.

Jean is using a gofundme page to help her raise money for school. She’s set a goal of $2,200 to pay for tickets, visas, health insurance and other expenses of studying abroad.

It’s just a fraction of the total cost of the program – but every bit helps. She says gofundme lets her make the pitch her way.

“I put orange because that’s my favorite color,” she says of her page. “Usually the photo or video it usually enhances — they require you to have a photo because it makes it [easier] for you to get more money and stuff.”

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Lack of Competition in State Testing Evaluation Bidding Raises Questions

Companies that could have submitted bids to review Florida Standardized Assessment tests opted out. The size of the job and claims they are already too busy to take on additional work are the prevailing reasons given. But the lack of competition still raises concerns.

The news that just one firm submitted a proposal to review the Florida Standards Assessments raised eyebrows among the activists seeking to reform the state testing system. They questioned whether companies are trying to avoid the state’s messy political debate. They challenged whether the validity study can be relied upon.

Read more at: www.tampabay.com

Wealthy Central Florida Man Funds Schools Programs in Struggling Community

Over the past 21 years, Harry Rosen has spent more than $11 million to improve the quality of education in his Tangelo Park community. Rosen funds programs ranging from day care centers to college scholarships.

The Tangelo Park Program succeeds in large part because of its simplicity. There is no charter school for its children — about 900 under the age of 18 — no large bureaucracy, no hunt for money, no staff to speak of. It is run almost entirely by volunteers, mostly community leaders.

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In all, Mr. Rosen now spends about $500,000 a year, less than when he began the program, he said.

Mr. Rosen’s plan gives no money directly to the schools, directing it instead to help preschool children and provide scholarships for high school graduates.

Read more at: www.nytimes.com

Most Students Say Thanks, But No Thanks, To New University Of Florida Online Program

A new program designed to boost enrollment at the University of Florida Online is getting little interest. Just 10 percent of students who weren’t accepted to the brick and mortar campus chose the new online option instead.

UF sent the invites out back in February, at the same time it sent acceptance letters to 14,000 out of 31,000 high school seniors who had applied for admission to the fall semester. Those admitted to UF had an average GPA of 4.3, average SAT scores of 1,918 and average ACT scores of 29.

The PACE program was created as a way to boost the numbers of first-time-in-college students enrolling in UF Online, to provide an alternate path to residential programs, and to populate major areas of study that have been under-enrolled in recent years.

Read more at: www.gainesville.com

Former Tampa Superintendent Will Lead New York Schools

In a unanimous vote on Monday, former Hillsborough County, Florida School Superintendent MaryEllen Elia has been appointed New York education commissioner. In January the Hillsborough County School Board voted 4-3 to terminate her contract.

In New York, Ms. Elia, 66, will preside over some of the biggest questions in education, including the future of the Common Core standards in the state’s classrooms, the use of standardized testing and how to evaluate teachers. Following a huge increase in the number of students who sat out the state tests this year, she will have to decide whether to punish districts where large numbers of students opted out of the tests.

Read more at: www.nytimes.com

Colleges Face Challenges Enrolling Growing Number Of Minority Students

Nationwide trends in demographic shifts indicate that in 10 years nearly half of high school graduates will be non-white. But a lack of support to these diverse populations may point to challenges in getting degrees into the hands of many of these students.

The Hmong, a group of Asians who don’t go to college in large numbers, help illustrate the complex changing demographics of students arriving at American universities and colleges: increasingly nonwhite, low-income, and first-generation.

Among the 281,000 Hmong in the United States, 38 percent have less than a high school degree, about 25 percentage points lower than both the Asian-American and U.S. averages, according to the Center for American Progress. Just 14 percent have at least a bachelor’s degree, less than half the national average.

Read more at: hechingerreport.org

Florida Sets Timeline For Release Of FSA And School Grades

With nearly 3 million tests completed in Florida this past school year many parents and educators have been wondering when they would be able to see those test scores. This week the Florida Department of Education provided a timeline for release of the scores for students and for school accountability.

This was a year of testing change in Florida, with the introduction of the new Florida Standards Assessment, or FSA, which replaced most of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT. And the release of FSA scores — which were to be out in June — has been delayed by state lawmakers’ demand for an additional “validity study” before scores are made public. That study likely won’t be wrapped up until Sept. 1.

Read more at: www.orlandosentinel.com

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