More than a quarter of Florida high school seniors scored high enough on an Advanced Placement test to earn college credit in 2013. That’s the fourth highest rate in the nation. Florida has pushed for more students to take AP exams.
As a disabled Orlando child was dying, his parents had to fill out paperwork explaining why he couldn’t take standardized tests required by federal and state rules. Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell argues his case should be an example for why schools need more common sense about testing.
Chris Guerrieri is a Jacksonville art teacher who also blogs about education.
Last month he sent us an email about Florida’s Common Core standards.
“My question was: How does Common Core affect poverty?” he asked.
More than half of all Florida students qualify for the federal free and reduced-price lunch program.
It’s a short-hand way to gauge poverty. Florida’s rate is about one-sixth higher than the national average.
We took Guerrieri’s question to Paul Thomas. He’s a professor at South Carolina’s Furman University and has written a book about the effects of poverty on education.
Thomas said Common Core is a distraction from real problems with schools.
“If you’re an African-American male student,” he said, “you are disproportionately likely to be excluded from advanced classes and you’re also likely to sit in classrooms with teachers that have no experience and possibly no certification. There’s absolutely nothing in Common Core that addresses any of those inequities.”
Nancy Gavrish has taught for 36 years, most of them teaching art to students at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy in Melbourne.
But, lessons that worked for Gavrish at the beginning of her career weren’t as effective later.
“I realized for years that I was not able to keep students’ attention like I used to,” she said, “that demonstrations just weren’t doing it anymore.”
So Gavrish turned to technology to lure students in. First she dabbled with YouTube — with limited results — before turning to online museum collections, virtual tours and an electronic whiteboard. Eventually, she had her students create art based on a historical figure and use iMovie to compile video portfolios.
Gavrish said students now dive into their assignments, but admits she had a tough time making the initial plunge into technology.
“I was scared at first,” she said, “because I realized that even my own children and the children I was teaching knew more than I did. They were OK with just sitting down and going for it, where I was very hesitant.
“I realized that if I wanted to continue to really connect with those children, I had to do it.”
Apple, AT&T, Microsoft, Sprint and Verizon are just some of the companies pledging more than $750 million to improve school Internet bandwidth, provide more online access to students and equip schools with computers, tablets and other devices. The partnership follows news that the federal government plans to double — an additional $2 billion — a program that provides schools grants for broadband Internet access over the next two year.
School superintendents told Gov. Rick Scott that his proposed budget does not include enough money for maintenance, buses and school technology upgrades. Superintendents also asked Scott to support their proposal to extend the transition to Common Core standards and suspend the school grading system — ideas Education Commissioner Pam Stewart opposes.
Charter schools seeking state money for facilities could have to locate in neighborhoods with schools earning low grades on the state’s A-to-F grading system. That’s according to a proposal tucked into Gov. Rick Scott’s budget, Travis Pillow with the Tallahassee Democrat reports.
Florida students could choose computer programming courses instead of a foreign language as part of a bill to help Florida schools add more technology and digital instruction.
The bill would require state colleges to accept two years of computer programming if the courses applied to a student’s major. State universities would have the option of accepting those courses instead of a foreign language.
Senate education chairman John Legg, who is sponsoring the bill, said it would prepare students to fill high-tech jobs. Advocates argue Florida won’t produce enough computer programmers over the next decade to fill available jobs.
Computer coding is getting a strong push in education. A national non-profit is urging students to write computer code for an hour daily. A South Florida woman has also started a program to teach kids the high-tech skill.
Florida students aren’t required to take foreign language in order to earn a standard high school diploma. A “scholar” diploma requires two years of foreign language. Florida universities often require students have studied a foreign language.
PolitiFact says Gov. Rick Scott is “Half True” when he says his budget includes record funding for education. Total funding does set a record, but the per-student funding was higher in 2007-2008, when the state spent $7,126 per student.
John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida permalink
Lincoln High School history teacher Stephen Veliz had his first breakthrough using technology in the classroom when he had his sixth grade students blog.