State economists say low gas prices should mean more spending — and more tax collections. That could help Gov. Rick Scott deliver on his campaign pledge of record per-student funding, and help lawmakers pay for more technology, high-speed Internet connections and other digital learning tools.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush took a first step toward a 2016 presidential run Tuesday, announcing he was forming a political action committee to raise money and explore a candidacy. Bush has spent much of his time out of office pushing education issues — which will likely be a centerpiece of any presidential campaign.
ITT Technical Institute, one of the best-known for-profit colleges, is getting into the charter school business offering high school juniors and seniors a chance to earn a diploma and an associate’s degree, NPR reports. The company is opening the Early Career Academy chain of charter schools, with locations proposed in Tampa and Jacksonville.
Abuse. Drugs. Mental health issues.
It’s tough enough for anyone to talk about those problems. It can be even harder for teens facing them for the first time.
That’s why the Health Information Project (HIP) trains high school juniors and seniors to lead freshmen through a year-long health education program. The program is in 37 Miami-Dade public high schools, plus one private school. It has trained more than 1,000 juniors and seniors on how to teach and talk to younger schoolmates about health issues.
“What we’ve realized over the years is that peers can be very persuasive in a positive way and they can influence those that look like them,” said Risa Berrin, who started the program.
The school day is over at North Miami Beach High School. Most students have headed for the doors. But Diamante Sharpe and Erica Poitevien and about a dozen classmates are working on their lesson plans.
“So welcome back to HIP. My name is Diamante,” Sharpe tells the group. “And today is our fourth session – mental health.”
They ask those gathered to clear their desks, pay attention and offer constructive criticism to classmates to help them teach the material better.
Over the course of the year, students teach eight lessons and lead discussions.
The Federal Communications Commission has approved a $1.5 Billion expansion of the E-Rate program, which helps schools — including those in Florida — purchase high-speed Internet access. The 3-2 vote was on party lines, with Democrats voting for and Republicans voting against.
Students who are the first in their family to attend college often have a more difficult time finishing their degree.
Research shows those students know less about how to get into and pay for college. And first generation college students are less likely to take tough high school courses needed to be prepared for college.
Documentary filmmaker Adam Fenderson spent three years following a group of first generation students through high school as they prepared for college. His film is called First Generation and will be screened in Miami this week.
Fenderson talked about what he learned with WLRN’s StateImpact Florida reporter John O’Connor.
More than 97 percent of Florida teachers earned one of the top two evaluation scores — “highly effective” or “effective” — according to preliminary statewide data released Wednesday.
The percentage of teachers earning the top rating increased for the second year in a row. More than 42 percent of teachers were rated “highly effective.” That’s up from 23 percent two years ago.
More than half of teachers were rated “effective.”
The ratings at the other end of the scale were virtually unchanged from last year. Teachers earning “needs improvement” were 1.3 percent of the state total, while three in 1,000 teachers were rated “unsatisfactory.”
Nearly one in five teachers has yet to be evaluated.
The teacher ratings are based, in part, on student test scores and are required by a 2011 law. This is the third year Florida has released statewide data.
The statewide group representing Florida’s 67 county school boards says the state should not use testing results for any other purpose other than measuring that student’s progress at the time he or she took the test. Florida School Boards Association members say the resolution is intended more for the public — which has been leading the anti-testing charge — than for lawmakers.
“Opt Out” groups are pushing back against what they say is too much standardized testing in Florida. The tests are changing as the state transitions to Florida Standards - an offshoot of the Common Core standards being implemented around the country.
Two-dozen groups have been formed at the district level to help parents learn the procedure for opting their students out of the tests.
By following a specific procedure (which may vary depending on the district), the student’s test is invalidated. The result is that the student doesn’t fail, school grades and teacher pay aren’t impacted, and the district is forced to find an alternative means of assessing what the student has learned.
Cindy Hamilton, co-founder of Opt Out Orlando, talked with StateImpact Florida’s Gina Jordan about why she wants an end to so much testing and what she’d like to see happen instead.
We’ve been answering audience questions about Florida’s new statewide test, the Florida Standards Assessments.
A parent asked us on Facebook: “Please find out for us parents of third graders, who face mandatory retention if they fail the new reading assessment this spring, how the state plans to deal with them. Will they return to 3rd grade after the cut scores are determined in Winter 2015?”
The bottom line: third graders can still be held back next year if they score the equivalent of a 1, out of 5, on the reading test. But those students are still eligible to to advance to fourth grade through one of state’s exemptions, including a portfolio or passing an alternative exam.
Florida students will begin taking the Florida Standards Assessments beginning in early March, with testing running on and off through mid-May. But the State Board of Education isn’t expected to set final targets — known as cut scores — until Winter 2015.