President Barack Obama says that U.S. schools spend too much time testing, and that he’s partly to blame. He’s asking school districts to spend no more than 2 percent of class time on exams.
Most of the students at Royal Palm Elementary in Miami have Spanish-speaking families.
But those families also want their kids to speak – and read and write – more Spanish in school.
So teacher Alexandra Martin is leading her 1st grade class through “Vamos Papa,” with each child reading a passage from the Spanish language story. Martin helps students through proper pronunciation and words they stumble on.
This is the Miami-Dade public schools’ extended foreign language program, or EFL
Students have 5 hours a week of classes taught in Spanish with additional lessons in English. That’s not just reading and writing, but also math and science.
Spanish is part of everyday life in Miami that’s different from the rest of the country. But Miami-Dade is struggling to find enough teachers qualified in both English and Spanish.
“We had more applicants than we could service so we had to hold a raffle,” said Marta Garcia, principal of Royal Palm Elementary School, near Florida International University. Three students applied for each slot in Royal Palm’s EFL program.
“Parents have realized that it really makes a difference in their child’s education,” Garcia said. “To truly be biliterate and bilingual, it is a big advantage.”
The latest batch of scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress are due next week, and many expect scores will drop. So the question is why? And who will get the blame?
Columbine killer Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold wrote a script that school shooters are still following, Malcom Gladwell writes the in The New Yorker. The result, he argues, is that kids who might never kill now go through with it because they can follow a playbook of techniques and rituals.
A recent debate about integrating Brooklyn schools got NPR’s education looking at what research says about integrated school performance. Turns out, white students do just as well on tests whether they attend schools with a high percentage of black or Hispanic students or a low percentage.
It sounded like a story guaranteed to irritate taxpayers: a national study out of Rutgers university says more and more public high school students are taking longer than four years to graduate.
Instead, they’re in school for five or six — or more – years!
But Florida school officials say that’s not a problem here. And experts say, they both may be right — the difference may lie in some good news from the last several years.
Graduation rates are an important number because it lets us know how our high school students are doing, in terms of being ready to go to college or go into the workforce.
The Rutgers researchers say the U.S. Census data that they used is a more accurate way to measure graduation rate as it follows individuals through their lives.
They found a decline in on-time graduation through generations of high schoolers born in the 1940s to the 1980s, especially in boys and minority students.There was a definite growing trend for students to graduate well after they turned 18.
But education officials in Florida said, that’s not what’s happening here.
A Miami lawmaker is backing a bill which would create a pilot program with the University of Virginia to train principals to turn-around low performing schools. The principals would have autonomy like a charter school, but the state’s teacher union says it take a community to improve schools.
“Who are these bonuses for?”
It’s a question we heard from teachers over and over again while reporting on the new Best and Brightest Scholarships. They’re not actually scholarships — they’re bonuses worth up to $10,000 for teachers who scored in the top 20 percent of students when they took the SAT or ACT and earned the state’s top rating, “highly effective.”
Miami Republican Rep. Erik Fresen proposed the $44 million program during the legislative session. He’s said he was inspired by Amanda Ripley’s book “The Smartest Kids In the World.” In the book, Ripley found top students wanted to become teachers in Finland, South Korea and other top-performing nations. That isn’t always the case in the U.S.
Fresen’s bill went nowhere, but he managed to get the money added to the state budget despite objections from the Senate.
For many teachers, qualifying for the bonus meant tracking down decades-old test scores from the two testing companies or from the college they attended. Many teachers said they couldn’t get the records before the October 1st deadline.
It’s why many veteran teachers don’t think they bonuses were meant for them. They think they were intended for young teachers. More recent graduates can get their test scores online and first-year teachers are exempt from the “highly effective” requirement.
The uprising against the Common Core State Standards is over, Politico reports, and Common Core opponents have lost.
A handful of states have ditched Common Core, which outlines what students should know in math and language arts at the end of each grade..
Florida and another, larger, group of states have chosen not to use one of the two nationally-designed tests for Common Core.
But most of the states which adopted the standards are knee-deep in making them work now and have no plans to turn back. Even some of the loudest critics are conceding the standards are here to stay:
In Brigette Kinney’s design class at Ada Merritt K-8 center in Miami, one of the key concepts is editing and revising ideas after getting feedback.
Her 8th graders created role-playing games based on books they read. And then adjust the games, after watching their classmates play.
Kinney hopes Florida lawmakers will be as open to change as her students.
“I feel that legislators are out of touch with what it means to be a good teacher,” she said.
Kinney was talking about the new program called the “Best and Brightest Scholarships.” It’s not not actually a scholarship. It’s bonuses for teachers based on how they did on the SATs and ACTs. And they could get as much as ten thousand dollars.
To get the money, teachers need to have scored in the top twenty percent when they took the college placement exams. They also have to earn the state’s top teacher rating – “highly effective.”
Lawmakers in Tallahassee earmarked $44 million in the state budget for the bonuses.
But to get them, many teachers have to track down scores they may not have seen since high school.