Putting Education Reform To The Test

Why Florida Earned A B- On A National Education Policy Report Card

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StudentsFirst founder Michelle Rhee has advised Florida Gov. Rick Scott. Her group is recommending changes to Florida education policies.

California-based StudentsFirst has released a report card grading states on their education policy.

Florida earned the second-highest grade in the country, a B-, behind only Louisiana. No state earned an A.

The biggest reason Florida scored well? The 2011 Students Success Act, which requires teacher evaluations partially based on test scores, eliminates long-term contracts for new teachers and requires districts to set up pay systems based on teacher performance.

“Florida mandates that performance drive all district personnel decisions, including placement, layoff, and tenure decisions,” the StudentsFirst analysis says. “The state has already made progress in its implementation as well.”

Florida scored lower on the “empowering parents” and “spend wisely” categories.

StudentsFirst wants parent trigger legislation, and lobbied for an unsuccessful Florida bill last year. The bill failed on a tie vote on the final day of the legislative session.

The bill would allow parents in chronically failing schools to choose how to restructure the schools, including firing the principal or staff, converting to a charter school or closing the school. StudentsFirst also wants school districts to notify parents if their child is placed with a teacher earning a poor evaluation.

The group also says the state should approve a law creating a statewide panel to approve charter schools. The state should also change its law allowing school districts which approve charter schools to keep 5 percent of the funding as an administrative fee, StudentsFirst recommends.

StudentsFirst says Florida should approve a law requiring teachers to enroll in the state’s defined contribution retirement plan, rather than a traditional pension. The group says the state should also repeal its constitutional class size limits.


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