Putting Education Reform To The Test

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.

Continue reading the main story

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

Iowa Republicans: “What Is Common Core?”

Common Core — it’s going to be the biggest education issue for 2016 Republican presidential candidates, right?

Maybe not.

Bloomberg Politics has posted video of a focus group session with Iowa Republicans. Moderator John Heileman asks the panel (about 44 seconds in) if any of them think Common Core is important.

The response? Silence.

Finally, one man asks: “What is Common Core?”


Continue Reading

Florida Is A National Leader For Pre-K Education Enrollment

Both Republican and Democratic governors have been supportive of pre-kindergarten education programs nationwide. But, enrollment has changed little since 2010 with around 29 percent of 4-year-olds enrolled in state funded pre-K.

Florida, Oklahoma, Vermont and the District of Columbia each provide pre-K to more than 75 percent of all 4-year-olds. Meanwhile, 11 states operated programs serving fewer than 10 percent of 4-year-olds and 10 states had no program at all in 2014.

Read more at: www.washingtonpost.com

Charter School Takes Aim At At-Risk Students

The entrance to Enterprise High School, a charter school in Pinellas County for students at risk for not completing their educations.

M.S. Butler / StateImpact Florida

The entrance to Enterprise High School, a charter school in Pinellas County for students at risk for not completing their educations.

Of the more than 600 charter schools in Florida. Some focus on the arts, some on sciences. Others are high schools that help students who are at risk for not finishing or dropping out completely.

At the crossroads of  busy four lane highway in Clearwater, students have to make their way through the noise and exhaust of heavy traffic to get to their high school classes.

Tucked in the back of of a strip mall is Enterprise High School. The 5-year-old charter school focuses on just one kind of student, those at risk for not finishing high school at all.
You may have one a lot like it very close by and not even know it.

Donna Hulbert, Director of the school says Enterprise gives its student free bus passes, eliminating one obstacle to getting here on time.

“We are located here, really, for one purpose only. We have four bus stops on the corners of our intersection.”

Continue Reading

Three State Math Exams Won’t Count Toward Student Grades This Year

New Algebra, Algebra II and Geometry end-of-course exams won’t factor into students’ final grades this year, the Florida Department of Education says. The Tampa Bay Times reports that the state says the tests won’t be validated in time to include the test results in student grades.

In a memo to superintendents, Lyons wrote that the state will not have completed its independent validity study of the exams before grades are issued. Therefore, this year only the scores won’t count in course grades, despite state law, he wrote.

“School districts should calculate final course grades and make promotion decisions without regard to the 30 percent requirement that typically applies,” Lyons wrote. “The absence of EOC results alone in these courses should not result in a grade of incomplete.”

Read more at: www.tampabay.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 »