A majority of Florida students say they prefer computerized tests to paper and pencil tests. Florida has used computerized online exams since 2011, and this year is introducing the Florida Standards Assessments.
The federal government should ban overdraft fees for financial accounts established through a partnership between banks and colleges and universities, according to a new report from the Center for Responsible Lending.
Those overdraft fees can cost students hundreds of dollars a year — more than books — on accounts often set up to handle financial aid payments.
The review included two schools in Florida with bank partnerships: the University of Central Florida and Miami Dade College. UCF partners with Fairwinds Credit Union, which charges $35 per overdraft while Miami Dade College partners with Higher One. Some Higher One accounts charge a monthly fee but have no overdraft fees, while other accounts charge up to $38 per overdraft.
About 40 percent of young adults said they overdrew their account at least twice per year. The heaviest offenders, 11 percent of young adults surveyed, said they overdrew their account 19 times per year — or $665 in overdraft fees under the terms of a UCF Fairwinds Credit Union account.
Students could avoid those charges if banks declined the debit charges rather than charging overdraft fees, sometimes several in a day before students know their account is overdrawn.
Testing experts say the problems Florida’s has had with its new statewide exam so far are likely not serious enough for the state to consider throwing out this year’s test scores on the Florida Standards Assessments.
Earlier this month a software problem meant students had trouble logging onto the writing exam for several days, and some students who did sign in to the exam were booted out of the system. Later, hackers tried to shut down the exam by swamping test severs with traffic.
Those glitches have led some lawmakers and parents to ask for a return to paper and pencil exams. But those same testing experts say Florida shouldn’t abandon computer-based tests at the same time classroom lessons are becoming more high tech.
“The startup problems that Florida had do not seem to reach a place where you would have to throw out the results,” said Doug McRae, who retired as an executive with curriculum and testing company McGraw-Hill. “I would recommend that you would really need to have upwards of 10 percent of the population affected by problems before you have to seriously consider not using the results.”
But Senate Education committee chairman John Legg says it’s not that simple.
What the committee actually did, Legg says, is put the responsibility on school districts whether students stay in 3rd grade or move to 4th grade. So some students with the lowest scores on the state language arts exam could still be retained this year.
“They asked us to trust them,” Legg says of the request from school district leaders.
Florida law requires 3rd grade students earning the lowest score on the state reading test spend another year in 3rd grade to improve their reading. Students can get an exemption from the requirement by submitting a portfolio of their work, through alternative test scores or other methods.
Nearly one in five Florida 3rd graders were at risk of being held back because of low scores on the state reading test last year.
The bill requires an outside group to make sure the state test results are statistically valid.
Sen. David Simmons says he wants to make sure schools and the state can depend on Florida Standards Assessments results before making big decisions using those results.
“Common sense says that we need to ensure that this test that is being administered is, in fact, psychometrically valid,” Simmons says. “This amendment does that.”
Schools in Finland are scrapping subject-based classes, like math and foreign language, in favor of lesson on topics. The idea is similar to what American education reformer John Dewey proposed a century ago.
A college education is generally considered a student’s best shot at getting a good job these days, and it’s often assumed most high schoolers are prepared to attend college.
But there’s one group that has been quietly excluded from that process — students with intellectual disabilities.
A program at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg is giving these students college experience that while it’s not a traditional degree, it’s giving them a head start on their career goals.
“I work at the waterfront and we help people check out canoes, kayaks and paddle boards. This is something that I want to work at in my future,” said Jones.
A Senate committee has approved a bill which would limit state testing. The bill also allows districts which had technology problems during testing to get a waiver from using those results to calculate school or teacher performance.
Parents could enroll their child in any Florida school which isn’t full, according to a school choice bill approved by a Senate committee Wednesday. Parents could also pull their child from a class taught by someone working outside of her or her subject field.
It’s a hearty perennial for state lawmakers, but this year it seems pension reform is going nowhere. That should be a relief to teachers, which have fought efforts to eliminate the traditional pension for new hires.