Florida

Putting Education Reform To The Test

Study: Performance Funding Doesn’t Improve Higher Ed Graduation Rates

President Obama wants to make two years of public community college free for many students. But institutions like Miami Dade College, pictured here, could only participate if they also have a performance funding program.

President Obama wants to make two years of public community college free for many students. But institutions like Miami Dade College, pictured here, could only participate if they also have a performance funding program.

Performance funding in public higher education is a way for states to hold institutions accountable for certain outcomes. But new research shows it doesn’t do much to keep students enrolled or boost graduation rates.

A study co-authored by Dr. David Tandberg, Florida State University assistant professor of higher education, shows little difference in outcomes between institutions that receive performance funding and those that don’t.

The latest report examined community colleges in Washington State, but the research is part of a series of studies measuring outcomes nationally.

Florida currently has no performance funding model for state colleges. But its program for state universities considers a long list of metrics including how many bachelor’s recipients are employed or furthering their education one year after graduation, their salaries, and the six year graduation rate.

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Bill Could Give Out-Of-State Charter Schools A Florida Foothold

A Rocketship Education ad, posted on Twitter, for a Washington, D.C. school choice event.

Rocketship Education

A Rocketship Education ad, posted on Twitter, for a Washington, D.C. school choice event.

Florida charter schools which consistently earn good grades on the state’s public school report card get special privileges.

Soon, out-of-state charter schools could too. It could help national charter school chains have an easier time finding a foothold in Florida.

The state’s “high performing” label allows schools to expand across Florida more quickly, sign longer-term contracts and pay lower fees to local school districts.

Senator Jeff Brandes’ bill would allow the State Board of Education to give out-of-state charter school chains the high-performing designation. The bill would also allow out-of-state school operators to pay lower administrative fees to school districts for three years.

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Brevard Schools Will Help Parents Opt Out Of Local Tests

The Brevard County school district says it will help parents who want their kids to skip locally-required exams. However, students are supposed to take the Florida Standards Assessments and other state-required tests.

District standardized exams are typically used as a diagnostic tool to see where students struggle. But ultimately, he said it’s the responsibility of parents “to make a decision that they think is right for their child.”

However, the district is not taking the same approach with state exams, which are used in accountability measures like school grades and teacher job evaluations. No “opt out” policy is being created, and parents will be told when the testing window is, typically a span of days or weeks, but not the specific day or time.

Read more at: www.floridatoday.com

Fewer People Taking And Passing The New GED

The number of Floridians taking the GED test plunged in first year of a new, online exam. And the percentage of people who passed the tougher test also declined.


Cheryl Etters, in Florida, pointed out that passage rates are already beginning to climb. In the first six months of 2014 only 50 percent of GED tests taken in Florida had passing scores, but by the final six months that percentage passing had climbed to 65.6 percent, similar to the 2012 passing rate.

Test takers are getting used to the test, which switched from paper and pencil to computer, said Deborah Mills, a senior specialist Florida State College at Jacksonville, which has multiple GED testing locations

“Students are saying the math is a little harder or different, but they seem to be more comfortable on the computer, “ Mills said. “They like the computer. I’m surprised.”

Read more at: jacksonville.com

Miami-Dade Superintendent: Get Your Shots (Even Flu)

Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.

Miami-Dade school leaders say are concerned about a measles outbreak spreading across the country and urge parents to vaccinate their children.

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho says vaccinations work and the district is tracking whether students get their required shots. Carvalho says 98 percent of Miami-Dade students have been vaccinated or are getting the shots now.

“We’ve seen recently what the outbreak of measles in Arizona can do to a community,” Carvalho says. “That can not be the case in Miami. So we are diligent in ensuring our children are properly immunized prior to beginning their school year.”

That includes 1,200 students new to the district this year, many escaping dangerous communities in Central America.

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Florida FAFSA Completion, By The Numbers

Yesterday we told you about a program in Miami-Dade County schools to help more students complete the federal financial aid application, known as the FAFSA.

Here’s some graphs to

Here’s how Florida compares to California, Texas and the national average for the rate of high school graduates who submit a FAFSA:

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Senate Bill Would Trim Testing, Adjust Evaluations

The chairman of the Senate Education committee has submitted a bill which would cap total testing time for state- and local-required exams. The bill would also put less emphasis on test scored when evaluating teachers.


The proposal, which seems to have early support from key Senate leaders, would also:

•Limit state- and district-mandated testing to 45 hours, or 5 percent of a student’s time in school. That would not include teacher-driven tests.

•Reduce the amount that student test results count toward teacher evaluations, from 50 percent to 40 percent.

•Allow districts to receive a waiver from state accountability rules if they have specific problems giving the new Florida Standards Assessments.

Read more at: www.tampabay.com

Why Paperwork Is Worth Millions To Florida College Students

Miami Beach Senior High college adviser Maria Sahwell helps Anahi Hurtado, left, and her mother fill out the FAFSA.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Miami Beach Senior High college adviser Maria Sahwell helps Anahi Hurtado, left, and her mother fill out the FAFSA.

It’s a midweek school night at Miami Beach Senior High School.

Students, their parents and siblings — roughly 80 people in all — are waiting in the school’s library to get on a computer and answer a lot of questions.

Miami Beach Senior High college adviser Maria Sahwell and experienced counselors will walk families through filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

By this time of year many high school seniors have already sent in their first college applications. Now, the question is how to pay for it.  And for most that means the FAFSA.

But half of Florida high school graduates don’t complete the form, losing out on at least $100 million dollars for college each year.

Anahi Hurtado wants to study political journalism. She and her mother, Susy Riener, quickly run into their first obstacle.

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Orange County Schools Want To Prevent Groups Handing Out Religious Materials

The Orange County school board is considering banning the distribution of religious materials after The Satanic Temple, a group with a provocative name whose tenets promote free speech, asked to hand out coloring books. Opponents say the policy is probably illegal.

The proposed new rule reads, in part: “Materials of a denominational, sectarian, religious, political, or partisan nature shall not be permitted to be distributed.”

It is based on policies in Broward and Miami-Dade schools that allow some other groups, such as the Boys & Girls Clubs or YMCA, to distribute materials with prior approval.
cComments

@Moonlightbiker There’s no maybe about it. This was the Satanic Temple’s stated goal from the start.
SoSayethTheSpider
at 11:04 AM January 30, 2015

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Joseph Richardson, a member of the Central Florida Freethought Community, the group that gave out atheist materials, said he thinks the board’s proposed policy needs to be all or nothing.

“The only way is to limit them to school-sponsored and curriculum-related materials,” he said.

Read more at: www.orlandosentinel.com

Opting Out Of State Tests Isn’t An Option, Education Commissioner Tells Lawmakers

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart says state law doesn't allow parents to opt their children out of required testing.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart says state law doesn't allow parents to opt their children out of required testing.

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart says students can not skip state-required tests, and teachers and schools can be punished for refusing to administer required exams.

Stewart’s letter is a response to questions from Senators as they prepare for the upcoming legislative session. Senators wanted to know if students could opt out of state-required exams and how doing so might affect their progress in school.

Stewart says state law allows students to skip required tests for one reason: They have been granted an exemption for medical reasons or disabilities. It’s up to districts to decide when and if students can skip locally-required exams, Stewart wrote.

“State law requires students to participate in the state assessment system,” Stewart wrote, “therefore, there is no opt out clause or process for students to opt out or for parents to opt their children out.”

Any changes to opt out rules would required the legislature to pass a law.

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