The band GOODING performs at Miami Beach High School. The band visits schools around the country to play their music and teach financial lessons.
You might be forgiven for mistaking Miami Beach High School’s auditorium for the Fillmore Thursday.
Students waved lit cellphones above their heads.
They sang along with “whoa-oh-oh” choruses.
But when the concert ended, they got a lesson in what some have dubbed nature’s most powerful force.
“It’s called compounding interest,” says Gooding, the guitarist who uses only the one name professionally and is lead singer of a band by the same name (though in all caps). “Raise your hand if you know what compounding interest is? I won’t make you say it. Awesome.”
If you watch shows like CSI or have seen a car commercial, you’ve probably heard GOODING’s music.
The more technology, the worse the performance on tests — This was the big conclusion. The students who spent the most time using computers or on the Internet in school did worse than expected on international tests.
The students who ranked in the middle for technology use — what the OECD called moderate use — did the best on international tests.
“That’s pretty sobering for us,” said Andreas Schleicher, who leads the OECD’s education efforts. “We all hope that integrating more and more technology in school is going to help us actually to enhance learning environments. Make learning more interactive…but it doesn’t seem to be working like this.”
Bus routes have been redrawn. And the district sent up flares, looking to hire anyone who wants to drive a bus.
It’s the first crisis new superintendent Robert Avossa has had to face since taking over the job in June. And he says it could have been avoided if district leaders had listened.
“The lesson to be learned is that our bus drivers, right? Sort of the low man on the totem pole,” Avossa told a gathering of business leaders last week, “were waving the big red flag to the management over in transportation saying ‘We have a problem.’ And the management decided not to listen…That’s problematic.”
Avossa has traveled all over Palm Beach County to find others with similar advice about how to run the district.
Florida is the first state in the nation to require high school football players watch a training video and acknowledge the risk of concussions.
There’s growing concern about the risks of concussions in young athletes. For years, high school coaches have had to take courses on the dangers of head injuries. This year, for the first time, all high school athletes in Florida are required to educate themselves about concussions before they can compete.
As the George Jenkins High School football team practices in the mid-August heat, senior Gavin Engle takes a knee on the sidelines. He was injured in a helmet to helmet collision three days before, and realized he was feeling the effects of a concussion.
“I kind of laid on the ground for a second,” Gavin says. “It took me a minute to get it together. The light hurts, your head hurts, it hurts your eyes, it just makes everything feel like it’s pounding.”
Gavin stopped playing and saw a doctor — but state officials worry that not all athletes would take themselves out of action.
So, the governing body for the state’s high school sports passed a new rule this summer. The Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) has mandated that all athletes have to watch a video about concussions and sign a form saying they understand concussion risks. Florida schools are the first in the country to take this step, and football programs –with their big rosters and summertime practices — are already dealing with the extra paperwork.
As schools open for a new school year, they’ll also start encountering student poverty and homelessness. At last count — the 2013/2014 school year – the number of homeless students had risen to more than 71,000 in the state’s public schools. For many of these children, a brand new school uniform may be out of reach, though school officials say it makes a big impact on their attitude. One longtime charity in Lakeland is quietly helping to fill that need.
Lady Wolverton started the Needlework Guild in England in 1882, when she asked her friends to knit clothes for orphans of a Welsh mining disaster. Reports of the group’s good works filtered back to the States, and a few years later, an American woman in Philadelphia reproduced the Needlework Guild there.
There are only two branches in Florida, both in Polk County. One is in Bartow, and the Lakeland branch — founded in 1935 — is celebrating its 80th anniversary. Many of the volunteers have mothers or grandmothers who raised money for Needlework Guild.
Evans High School in Orange County used to be known as a dropout factory. But since 2007, it’s gone from a two-time F-rated school to a B-rated school – in one of Orlando’s most troubled neighborhoods. Now, the “community school” concept is spreading to other Florida cities.
Evans is in a neighborhood called Pine Hills, where homes and businesses have bars at the windows. One student, found carrying a Taser, said it was due to her dangerous route home. The neighborhood has exceptionally high rates of juvenile crime and referrals to the Florida Department of Children and Families.
“We have long said at the Department of Children and Families that if we’re ever going to get our arms around neglect and abuse, it has to be a community-wide effort.”
DCF Secretary Mike Carroll. He says Evans has succeeded by becoming what’s called a “community school” — addressing the barriers to student success in a high-risk neighborhood.
“Everything from getting a child to school when they need to be there to making sure they’re fed when they arrive at school to making sure it’s safe going back and forth to school. If there are issues at home that may impact the child’s ability to learn when they get to school, that there’s assistance to do that…”
Students who are considered homeless by Florida schools can be living in hotels, trailer parks, in campgrounds or doubled up with friends or relatives. And with as many as 71,000 or more homeless students in the state the challenges can extend beyond the kids and families to include the schools.
For most kids school is a place of achievement and learning, or just a place to socialize with friends. But for kids without stable living arrangements it can mean much more than that.
Tampa Bay 2-1-1
It's difficult to estimate how many students are homeless.
School districts want to help their homeless students, but first they have to know who they are.
Estimates vary greatly on how many homeless students there are in Florida. Some say the number is as high as one in every 18.
Ken Gaughan supervises social work for Hillsborough County Public Schools. They asked experts how many homeless students they may have.
“And the input we get is – you need to look at your free lunch count in the district and our free lunch count is pretty high,” Gaughan said. “It’s around 55 percent. They say about 10 percent of your free lunch population is also homeless. And that’s a pretty big number.”
So the Schultz Center had to change. The non-profit is expanding beyond Northeast Florida to offer training to teachers statewide, both in person and online. And they’re building an incubator for education entrepreneurs.
They’re also helping teachers adjust to big changes in the classroom.
The difference in passing rates between state and federal tests has been dubbed the proficiency, or honesty, gap.
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.”