Florida

Putting Education Reform To The Test

Miami-Dade Schools Chief Wants To Delay New Testing, School Grades

Miami-Dade superintendent Alberto Carvalho, right, Gov. Rick Scott and Southside Elementary principal Salvatore Schiavone tour the school.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Miami-Dade superintendent Alberto Carvalho, from right, Gov. Rick Scott and Southside Elementary principal Salvatore Schiavone tour the school last month.

Miami-Dade superintendent Alberto Carvalho said Florida leaders should rethink the scope and purpose of education testing and give schools more time to prepare for new math and language arts standards.

Carvalho’s proposal was published online and emailed to reporters. Carvalho has also been tweeting excerpts since Monday.

Carvalho draws a hard line at eliminating testing, even as some Florida school districts float the idea of boycotting state-required exams.

“Respectful accountability is a data tool of truth that enables and empowers appropriate intervention,” Carvalho wrote. “Simply relying on an “impression” of achievement is not enough, as history has taught us.”

Continue Reading

Lee County School Board Reverses Testing Boycott

Testing opponents quietly show support for speakers at Tuesday's Lee County school board meeting. The board voted 3-2 to reverse its state testing boycott.

Ashley Lopez / WGCU

Testing opponents quietly show support for speakers at Tuesday's Lee County school board meeting. The board voted 3-2 to reverse its state testing boycott.

The Lee County school board has reversed its decision to reject state tests, after board member Mary Fischer changed her mind.

Last week the board became the first in Florida to refuse to offer state tests to its students on a 3-2 vote. The test are required by state law, and the results help determine everything from who can graduate high school or move on to the next grade, to state grades for public schools and teacher evaluations and pay.

Several news outlets reported that the crowd mostly opposed the use of state tests, but several speakers urged the district to reverse the decision and come up with another plan first. District superintendent Nancy Graham said she was concerned the decision could put the district’s $280 million in state funding at risk.

We’ve gathered a Storify from this morning’s meeting:

Continue Reading

FAU Students Building Robot Boat To Conquer The World

Ivan Bertaska, Anderson Lebadd and Edoardo Sarda run their robotic boat through the motions on the Intracoastal Waterway near Dania Beach.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Ivan Bertaska, Anderson Lebadd and Edoardo Sarda run their robotic boat through the motions on the Intracoastal Waterway near Dania Beach.

On the Intracoastal Waterway near Dania Beach, Ivan Bertaska was getting ready to captain his vessel.

Bertaska wants to check the boat’s capabilities by having it speed up and slow down as it carves a wavy wake across the Intracoastal.

“The wave pattern actually gives me a good range of velocities,” he said, “so at first we go about two knots and then we get to the top corners where we’re making sharp turns we’re going about one knot. So I get a good operational range of the vehicle.

“We get a lot of funny looks from boaters.”

Funny looks because Bertaska and a team of other engineers are building a boat that can drive itself.

The team is from Florida Atlantic University and Villanova University in Philadelphia. It includes FAU student Edoardo Sarda and Villanova student Anderson Lebbad. They’re traveling to Singapore in October for the Maritime RobotX Challenge.

And they’re one of just three teams from the United States chosen for the competition.

Continue Reading

Lee County School Board Will Reconsider Decision To Skip State Tests

The Lee County school board member who cast the decisive vote to opt the district out of state-required tests wants to reconsider the vote next week. The district will meet at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday.


Armstrong does not plan to change his vote. Neither will Scott. Dozier has not yet returned phone calls.

“I think we drew a line in the sand and it was way past time to make a decision,” Armstrong said. “Without making that decision, we couldn’t reorganize how we teach our students. I’m sick of the state jamming their mandates down our throats … and never giving us a dime for it. And I’m going to stick to my position.”

Fischer told the News-Press she will not comment verbally on the issue, but plans to send out a written statement later today.

Read more at: www.news-press.com

Tuition Must Increase, University Of Florida President Says

University of Florida President Bernie Machen says the school must raise tuition — a challenge to Gov. Rick Scott who has opposed and vetoed tuition hikes. Florida public universities have among the lowest tuition in nation.


Machen and administrators at other public universities in Florida have advocated that they need some degree of autonomy in setting tuition rates to meet their budgetary needs, to retain valued professors and recruit new faculty, to stay competitive with universities in other states, and to establish need-based scholarships.

Read more at: www.gainesville.com

Florida’s Teacher Union Says Scholarship Program Is Unconstitutional

Gov. Rick Scott at a reception for Step Up For Students, which oversees most of the state's tax credit scholarship program. The Florida Education Association is challenging the constitutionality of the scholarships.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Gov. Rick Scott at a reception for Step Up For Students, which oversees most of the state's tax credit scholarship program. The Florida Education Association is challenging the constitutionality of the scholarships.

When Florida first approved its private school tax credit scholarship program in 2001, Florida Education Association attorney Ron Meyer said education groups questioned the legality, but no one really objected to helping low-income students get out of low-performing schools.

But then the scholarship program started to grow. Lawmakers approved a law that automatically expanded the program each year. Then earlier this year, lawmakers raised the income cap. Now, a family of four earning $62,000 can receive a partial scholarship.

The program enrolls about 69,000 kids with a top scholarship value of just under $5,300.

“There comes a time when there’s a tipping point that’s reached,” Meyer said. “I think a lot of people turned a blind eye to the constitutional questions which were presented, even as this program was rolled out.”

Continue Reading

Read: School Boards Group Outlines Consequences Of Skipping State Tests

The Florida School Boards Association has outlined the consequences of districts skipping state tests, and most of them have to do with money.

401(k) 2012 / Flickr

The Florida School Boards Association has outlined the consequences of districts skipping state tests, and most of them have to do with money.

Last night, the Lee County school board became the first district to refuse state testing entirely. Other Florida school districts are also considering saying no to state exams.

The Florida School Boards Association is meeting next week and has posted an outline of the consequences for not complying state law.

The first step is an investigation by Education Commissioner Pam Stewart, according to the document posted by FSBA. If Stewart determines the district isn’t complying with state law, the State Board of Education can order the district to comply.

If the district refuses, the State Board of Education can ask the Legislature to take action. The state board can also withhold the transfer of state funds (and a big chunk of operations money goes through the state budget), lottery money or grants.

Continue Reading

Lee County School Board Becomes First To Say No To State Tests

Lee County's school board is opting out of state testing. How many districts will follow?

gonzalewis / Flickr

Lee County's school board is opting out of state testing. How many districts will follow?

Lee County’s school board became the first in the state Wednesday night to decide district students would no longer take statewide exams, according to the Fort Myers News-Press.

What happens next in uncertain.

State law requires school districts to participate in the statewide testing program. Those scores are used to determine grades for public schools, student promotions, high school graduation and teacher evaluation scores. Federal rules also require annual testing.

Lee County superintendent Nancy Morgan said she was concerned about the decision. The district’s attorney said school board members could be removed from office. From the News-Press story:

While the news was met with jubilation, Superintendent Nancy Graham said she was deeply concerned about the board’s decision.

“This will hurt children. There is no way around it,” Graham said while the audience booed. “I am gravely concerned about the decision that was made tonight, and I’ll try to make sense of this. It’s an interesting time to serve as the leader of this district.”

The meeting adjourned without discussion regarding what test – if any – will now be used in place of the state tests. The board members did not address if the decision will include charter schools.

Keith Martin, the board’s attorney, was not sure that there were any “immediate, clear” consequences to the action. He said it was possible the Governor could remove the school board members from their positions of power.

Continue Reading

Florida Ready To Challenge Federal Testing Rules For Students Learning English

Gov. Rick Scott says he's giving the U.S. Department of Education 30 days to change their mind about testing requirements for students learning English or the state could head to court.

John O'Connor / Flickr

Gov. Rick Scott says he's giving the U.S. Department of Education 30 days to change their mind about testing requirements for students learning English or the state could head to court.

Gov. Rick Scott is ready to take the federal government to court over testing rules for students learning English.

The U.S. Department of Education says Florida must count those students’ results after one year in school. Scott and Florida educators want to give students two years to learn English.

Scott said Education Commissioner Pam Stewart will send a letter asking the U.S. Department of Education to reconsider testing rules for students learning English. If they don’t change their mind in 30 days, Scott said the state could go to court.

“We believe federal officials haven’t properly scrutinized their decision,” Scott said. “If they refuse, we will begin reviewing every legal option that is available to us.”

Continue Reading

Lousiana Governor Files Common Core Lawsuit

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has filed a lawsuit challenging President Barack Obama’s administration over its support of Common Core math and language arts standards. States were given an advantage in a federal education grant program if they adopted the standards, which Jindal says “effectively forces states down a path toward a national curriculum.”


The Obama administration embraced the standards and encouraged states to adopt them as part of the application process for the Race to the Top grant program. Two state testing consortia — the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium — received $330 million from the grant program to develop standardized testing material tied to Common Core.

“Louisiana now finds itself trapped in a federal scheme to nationalize curriculum,” the lawsuit says. “What started as good state intentions has materialized into the federalization of education policy through federal economic incentives and duress.”

Louisiana received more than $17 million from Race to the Top and joined the PARCC consortium. It also received a waiver from certain federal education requirements under a program enacted by the Obama administration in 2011 that Jindal’s lawsuit says was designed to coerce states to use Common Core or risk the loss of billions in federal education funding.

Read more at: abcnews.go.com

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »

Economy
Education