The number of students home schooling increased by more than 9 percent last year — the largest rate of growth since 2011. The percentage of students home schooling is growing faster than the rate of public school enrollment.
The Senate voted not to allow parents to opt their students out of annual state tests during debate of the rewrite of the federal No Child Left Behind law. The U.S. House has included the idea, which means the two houses will have to reach an agreement.
Seminole County schools superintendent Walt Griffin says Florida should get rid of the Florida Standards Assessments and replace it with the Iowa Test and the SAT. Both tests are taken with paper and pencil.
Andrea Messina replaces Wayne Blanton leading the statewide association of school boards. The organization is regrouping after supporting after several members of leadership were defeated in elections last year.
Some states are telling students and parents they are better at reading, writing, math and other subjects than they really are, according to a new website from the Foundation for Excellence in Education.
The website, WhyProficiencyMatters.com, tracks the percentage of students scoring at grade level on state tests — “proficient” in education jargon. The site then compares those rates to how well students perform on the National Assessment of Education Progress, or NAEP. Students take the NAEP every two years and the exam results are considered the gold-standard of education data.
The group has found that many states report a much higher percentage of students are proficient on state tests than are proficient on NAEP. Foundation for Excellence in Education director Patricia Levesque says some states are telling students they’re ready for college or the workforce when they might not be.
“It’s really important to look at what is the gap between how your students are doing on the national test compared to how they’re doing on the state test,” she said, “because that gap tells you, basically, how honest is your state being to parents with how their individual child is doing.
“We’ve been telling parents ‘Oh no, your child is fine.’ But then when they get to college they’re actually not ready.”
More than two-thirds of Florida residents polled say public school students should have to take Spanish, according to a monthly University of Florida economic survey.
You’d expect South Florida residents might see a reason to require students to study Spanish — gateway to Latin America, and all — and they do.
But the University of Florida found the idea was supported by more than 60 percent of those polled in every region of the state — North, Central, Southwest and Southeast.
Christopher McCarty is the director of the University of Florida Survey Research Center at the Bureau of Economic and Business Research. He added the question to the university’s monthly economic poll and is surprised by the result.
“Given this is somewhat of a contentious issue, certainly in other states, I thought that this might be more contentious here,” he said. “But there was strong support for requiring Spanish and requiring our children learn to be bilingual.”
Earlier this week we told you about AMskills, a program bringing German-style apprenticeships to Tampa-area students.
Another way Florida has tried to help school prepare students for jobs is the Career and Professional Education Act. The law helps businesses create academies within public schools to train students and help them earn professional certifications. Those certifications can help students find a job or earn college credit.
So what kinds of certifications are Florida students earning?
Computer skills are a top choice, with students learning how to edit and manipulate images, create web sites and use basic office software. Food protection is the top career-specific certification, followed by several medical certifications.
An update to the federal No Child Left Behind law is finally hitting the Senate floor for debate. The bill has support of Republicans and Democrats, but there is still much disagreement over what the federal government’s role in education should be.
This week, the education advocacy group started by former Gov. Jeb Bush released a detailed list of donors for the first time. The Foundation for Excellence in Education posted the list on its website.
The Foundation for Excellence in Education conducts research and advocates for states to adopt education policies, including expanding school choice, measuring student, teacher and school progress and adopting the Common Core math and language arts standards. The group has raised $46 million since 2007.
The donor list does not reveal exact amounts, but lists each gift within a range — such as from $10,000 to $25,000. Gifts of more than $1 million did not have an upper range. More than 180 donors have given to the group.
Foundations were the biggest givers, with the Walton Family Foundation donating between $3.5 million and more than $6 million. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave between $3 million and more than $5 million over five years.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has disclosed donors to the education-focused non-profit for the first time. It’s part of Bush coming clean with tax returns and other records as part of his presidential campaign.