Florida

Putting Education Reform To The Test

Florida’s Education Commissioner Says FCAT Replacement Is On Track For Next Year

The Orlando Sentinel reports Florida’s Education Commissioner, Pam Stewart, has promised the FCAT replacement is trundling along on schedule for next year:


Florida’s work on FCAT’s replacement is “on time and on schedule,” and educators will get more details about the new exams, including sample questions, on June 30, Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said this morning. Stewart, speaking at the State Board of Education meeting in Nassau County, said the state’s public schools have lots of resources to implement the new “Florida Standards.”

Read more at: www.orlandosentinel.com

Bush Urges No Pause In Use Of Common Core Standards

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush isn’t backing off his support for Common Core State Standards. He released a letter Monday opposing efforts to pause implementation of the standards. Some, including the BIll and Melinda Gates Foundation, are urging delays in grading schools or teacher evaluations as states transition to the new standards and new, likely more difficult, tests.


Mr. Bush, by contrast, is urging states to stick with it.

“Pressing pause means stopping forward momentum,” said a letter released Monday by Mr. Bush’s nonprofit Foundation for Excellence in Education. “And when that happens, things can go backwards.”

Mr. Bush’s embrace of Common Core, as well as his support for legalizing undocumented immigrants, is coming to define his national profile ahead of a possible 2016 presidential bid. These stances isolate him from the conservatives who dominate Republican nominating contests. Last week, they demonstrated their power by ousting House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a Virginia GOP primary.

Read more at: online.wsj.com

More Florida Students Passing State’s End-Of-Course Exams

The percentage of students passing all four of Florida's end-of-course exams increased last school year.

DaveBleasdale / Flickr

The percentage of students passing all four of Florida's end-of-course exams increased last school year.

More Florida students passed the state’s final exams for algebra, biology, geometry and U.S. history, according to test results released Monday.

The tests, known as end-of-course exams, are required by state law. Students must pass the Algebra 1 end-of-course exam to graduate high school.

State leaders were pleased with the results.

“I think that is just a testimony to the great work that’s being done in our districts and in our schools and in our classrooms,” said Education Commissioner Pam Stewart.

The biggest improvement was on the U.S. History exam. Two-thirds of students passed the exam on their first attempt, an increase of 10 percentage points. Stewart said the increase might be because students enrolled in Advanced Placement history classes took the test to earn the state’s new scholar designation on their diploma.

On the required algebra test, 65 percent of students taking the test for the first time passed — and increase of one percentage point. But ninth graders are the largest group of students taking the algebra test, and the percentage of high school freshmen passing the exam held steady at 52 percent.

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Summer Boot Camp Might Solve A Ninth Grade Algebra Problem

Dywayne Hinds, Pinellas County schools director of middle school education, is helping target incoming ninth graders for a summer Algebra 1 boot camp.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Dywayne Hinds, Pinellas County schools director of middle school education, is helping target incoming ninth graders for a summer Algebra 1 boot camp.

About half of Florida ninth graders failed the state’s Algebra 1 exam on their first attempt last year.

The class — and passing the exam — are a high school graduation requirement.

We’ll find out today if those numbers improved when the Florida Department of Education releases this year’s end-of-course results.

But Pinellas County schools aren’t waiting. Hundreds of incoming ninth graders will return to class this week to begin a six-week summer Algebra 1 boot camp.

About two-thirds of Pinellas County ninth graders did not pass the Algebra 1 end-of-course exam given last spring.

Students will use a computerized curriculum which will let them spend less time on concepts they understand, and more time on lessons they struggle with.

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Sign Comes Down On School Once Named For KKK Leader

This summer, Jacksonville’s Nathan B. Forrest High is officially becoming Westside High after a decades-long fight over the school’s name.

Forrest was a confederate general, slave trader and the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. But in the most recent round of arguments over the school’s namesake, supporters of Forrest said it would be too expensive to replace the signage.

Ultimately, the school board voted to change the name to Westside. And Jacksonville education reporter Rhema Thompson reports the new signage is being donated:


Nathan B. Forrest High School’s physical transformation into Westside High School has begun.

Read more at: news.wjct.org

Fill In The Blank: The First Day Of Summer Is Like _____.

This is what the first day of summer feels like for some folks.

chrisroll / freedigitalphotos.net

This is what the first day of summer feels like for some folks.

School’s out for summer across Florida.

In honor of the much-anticipated break, we asked teachers, students and administrators to describe that first day out of the classroom by filling in the blank: The first day of summer is like ____.

For some, it’s a welcome respite.

For others, it’s the beginning of the next school year.

Check out the responses in the Storify below. Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments.

 

The Sunshine Economy: Common Challenges, Changing Classrooms

Our partners at WLRN put together a special education hour of the Sunshine Economy this week. The conversation ranged from a talk with Broward County’s superintendent about Common Core to a chat with a group of high school students about diversity in the classroom:

School's out for summer.

stockimages / freedigitalphotos.net

School's out for summer.

In this edition of The Sunshine Economy:

The school year may be over, but the next chapter in public education begins in less than three months: Common Core State Standards.

However, Florida public school kids won’t follow Common Core, at least not in name. The state has dubbed the standards “Florida Standards.” Still, the principles of Common Core remain: more rigorous education standards to better prepare students for college and careers.

The employment stakes of education are huge. In May, the U.S. job market marked a milestone. The number of jobs created since the recession ended is now equal to the number of jobs lost during the economic collapse. But the recovery is lumpy to say the least. The job gains are concentrated among those with at least some college education. The number of people who have solely a high school diploma or less and a job remains well below what it was before the recession. Continue Reading

Working This Summer For College? It’s Probably Not Going To Cover What It Used To

A summer job used to cover more of college than it does now.

stockimages / freedigitalphotos.net

A summer job used to cover more of college than it does now.

A summer job for a college student isn’t what it used to be.

Anya Kamenetz from NPR’s education team explored the economics of rising college costs over the years—and the comparatively creeping change in minimum wage. What she found is that a summer job just doesn’t cover what it used to:

“Let’s look at the numbers for today’s public university student. They’ve all changed in the wrong direction. In 2013-2014, the full cost of attendance for in-state students was $18,391. The maximum Pell Grant didn’t keep pace with that. It’s $5,550. That leaves our hypothetical student on the hook for $12,841.”

You can read the full story here and listen to the conversation from All Things Considered:

Gov. Rick Scott Signs In-State Tuition Bill For Undocumented Immigrants

Undocumented immigrant students, who were brought to Florida by their parents when they were younger, will now be eligible for in-state tuition. Gov. Rick Scott signed the “Dreamer” bill into law:


Gov. Rick Scott on Monday signed legislation that allows students who are undocumented immigrants to qualify for less expensive in-state tuition at Florida colleges and universities. The bill (HB 851), sponsored by Rep. Jeannette Nunez, R-Miami, was one of the most intensely debated during the 2014 legislative session in Tallahassee.

Read more at: miamiherald.typepad.com

How An Arts Program Is Changing A School’s Identity

Leslie Augustin, 13, an eighth-grade student in the guitar class, gets individual attention from Jonathan De Leon, founder of the guitar program at the school.

Daniel Bock / Miami Herald

Leslie Augustin, 13, an eighth-grade student in the guitar class, gets individual attention from Jonathan De Leon, founder of the guitar program at the school.

When Jonathan De Leon left his home state of New Jersey to teach at North Miami Middle School in 2007, he immediately saw possibility — both in the school and the students.

A post-graduate teaching job in an affluent neighborhood in Philadelphia quickly convinced De Leon that North Miami Middle — persistently a low-achieving school, according to the Education Transformation Office, an arm of Miami-Dade Schools that supports targeted schools — was the place he could make a significant impact.

When he arrived, De Leon says he remembers a “nonexistent” music program with no instrumental electives and an over-enrolled chorus class, the only option available.

“I started here in 2007 as a social studies teacher and it was both challenging and wonderful,” said De Leon, 28. “Teaching history was great, but my passion has always been music.”

That passion gave impetus to what administrators, teachers and students at the school are calling a culture change: a transformation that started with the music program.

Correction: An earlier version of this story identified Michael Kamen as the director of the the film, Mr. Holland’s Opus. He in fact is the composer who wrote the film score.

 

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