As Florida grapples with difficulties implementing online testing, schools across the country are expanding the use of collected data for a broad variety of uses. Academics, instruction and even discipline are being re-evaluated with the use of statistical analysis.
Florida Gulf Coast University’s board of trustees will meet on Tuesday to discuss shifting their focus from liberal arts degrees to programs they say will better prepare students to enter the future work force. The move, designed to make the university more economically competitive, is not without its critics.
“(Cutting programs) makes Florida Gulf Coast University lesser of an institution and more of an occupational, technical, vocational school,” said FGCU founding president Roy McTarnaghan.
Florida lawmakers’ decision to end mandatory final exams for every class will mean that more teachers’ performance will be judged on subjects they don’t teach.
Concerned about the amount of testing in schools — and pressured by activists and educators — this year lawmakers rescinded a state law that requires school districts to have a standard final assessment in any class that doesn’t already have a statewide exam. In most cases that’s a test, but it could be a final project or compilation of a student’s work.
Many districts jumped on the chance to get rid of the tests, which are also known as end-of-course exams.
But eliminating end-of-course exams means confronting an old problem again: Florida law requires teachers are evaluated based on whether students miss, meet or exceed expected results on state standardized tests. So how do you rate teachers if there’s no test?
Several large Florida schools districts say they will use state test scores to evaluate those teachers. That means some art, music or gym teachers will be judged based on their students’ scores on the state reading test.
“In some cases teachers are definitely not happy with it,” said Sharon Glickman, president of Broward Teachers Union. “And to a certain extent we’re not either. But it’s the best of, I hate to say it, two evils.”
Schools in Florida, California and Texas are giving away millions of dollars in free or reduced-price meals to students who don’t qualify, according to a new federal audit. Auditors say school districts should do more to verify family income levels. Federal programs provide meals to 1.6 million Florida students daily.
Two leading for-profit college companies announced they will close or phase out campuses enrolling roughly 14,000 students, Inside Higher Ed reports. The for-profit industry has been shrinking the past several years, a trend highlighted by the sudden collapse of Corinthian Colleges last year.
Florida’s switch to a new statewide test this year will mean delayed results for 3rd grade reading test scores. So school districts asked for, and received, more flexibility to determine how and why the state’s lowest-scoring 3rd grade students will be held back. Bay District Schools outline their process Tuesday.
John Oliver spent 18 minutes taking on standardized testing, teacher evaluations and all things “accountability” related on his show, “Last Week Tonight.”
And, of course, Florida plays a starring role.
Warning: Salty language, off-color jokes and test monkeys ahead.
The chairman of the Senate Education committee says lawmakers aren’t interested in cancelling the six-year, $220 million contract with Florida new statewide test provider despite multiple problems with the new exams already.
Twice this year contractor American Institutes for Research made changes to their system which prevented students and administrators from accessing the exam. Some students were even booted in the middle of completing the test.
One senator, Alan Hays, even filed amendments which would have canceled the contract. Critics of the new exam, Florida’s Common Core-based standards and judging student and school performance based on exam results supported the idea.
But Sen. John Legg, a Pasco County Republican, says there’s little support for that.
“Quite frankly the Legislature is not heading in that direction,” Legg says, “nor are senators and House members even talking about that. To cancel a contract in the middle would be very costly.”
Rain is terrible when you’re trying to give tours of your new garden.
But it’s great for the spinach, sweet potato and purple passion fruit rapidly taking root.
On a very rainy day, Kelsey Pharr Elementary third graders Ronnield Luna and Jeffrey Arroyo are showing grownups around what used to be a grass field.
Now the school in Miami’s Brownsville neighborhood has several thousand square feet of all kinds of fruit and vegetables.
Some you can find at your supermarket.
“And here we have lemongrass,” Arroyo says. “When you rip a little piece and you smell it, it smells like lemon.”
Other produce is more exotic.
“And here we have the Moringa, the Moringa tree,” Arrroyo says. “It’s the healthiest plant ever and it has protein.”
“It makes you live longer,” Luna adds
Students at ten other Miami-Dade elementary schools also will soon be eating kale, tomatoes and guava they grow themselves.
In a couple of years, the banana and jackfruit trees will be ready too.
The gardens — dubbed “food forests” — are part of a program to teach kids to eat more healthy and to teach them the science of farming and nutrition.
The latest batch of scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress are out, and U.S. 8th grade students have made no gains in Social Studies subjects since 2010. Scores on the NAEP history, civics and geography exams were flat. Some educators say more emphasis is being put on other subjects.