The Florida House of Representatives abruptly adjourned Tuesday, which means a handful of education bills in the pipeline are likely dead, the Tampa Bay Times reports. The only bill signed into law limits public school testing, ends the local end-of-course exam requirement and changes the teacher evaluation formula.
Miami Herald reporter Michael Vasquez has spent a year digging into Florida’s for-profit college industry for a series called Higher Ed Hustle.
About 300,000 Florida students attend a for-profit college, which often specialize in training low-skill workers for a new career.
But students often find their degree doesn’t qualify for the career they were seeking, and they graduate withe tens of thousands of dollars in debt.
Vasquez spoke with StateImpact Florida about what he discovered:
Q: Michael, you have spent a year looking at how for-profit colleges, career colleges, operate in Florida. Why don’t you kind of sum up what you’ve found?
A: Sometimes career colleges, which are mostly for-profit, sometimes they do a good job with students. They take students who are typically non-traditional older students. Maybe, if they’re younger, they probably weren’t the best students in high school.
The Miami-Dade School District is taking advantage of a new state law and eliminating more than 300 final tests — also known as end-of-course exams.
The law rescinds a requirement that districts give students a final exam in all subjects that don’t already have a required state exam.
“Today’s announcement should come as welcomed news to everyone who recognizes that too much testing deprives our students of valuable instruction time,” district superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho said in a statement. “In making these decisions, we’ve taken a logical and responsible approach to address the concerns of students, teachers and parents.”
Miami-Dade will give no end-of-course exams to elementary school students this year.
The district will field test 10 middle and high school end-of-course exams, but the results will not have any consequences. Those 10 subjects include five science courses, three history courses and two Spanish courses.
The district will field test new exams each year.
UPDATE: As the Tampa Bay Times‘ Gradebook blog notes, Charlotte and Walton County school districts have also suspended required use of local end-of-course exams.
The Hechinger Report details the issues other states have had with new Common Core tests. Florida has had two separate technical issues disrupt testing, while a cyber attack also caused minor problems.
The Seminole County school district near Orlando is asking the state for permission to give a test other than the Florida Standards Assessments. The district would like to use the SAT, PSAT and Stanford-10 tests instead, existing tests not created to measure Florida’s Common Core-based standards.
Florida students again had problems taking Florida’s new online exam on Monday. State education officials say the problem was created by test contractor American Institutes for Research.
A new program at Broward College has just eight students and seeks to train the next generation of South Florida artists and designers.
The school hopes to earn a national certification for the Visual Arts and Design Academy this spring – becoming the first community college in the South to have that.
Florida’s higher education system has put a focus on training workers for health care and other high-demand fields in recent years. And lawmakers have encouraged school districts to start career-training programs.
But the National Endowment for the Arts estimates the arts contribute $500 billion to the nation’s economy each year. And leaders of the Broward College program argue the arts and technology are tied together.
“People don’t realize the relationship, frequently, between science and art,” said Broward College art professor Leo Stitsky. “If we do away with pure science there would be no computer. If we do away with art there would be no Apple.”
Parents and teachers who have publicly criticized the Miami-Dade school district say they feel the district has tried to squelch dissent. The school district regularly calls people who have signed up to speak at school board meeting. District staff says they’re trying to address concerns.
Gov. Rick Scott has signed a bill eliminating some 11th grade tests and capping the total testing time for all students. Critics of testing say the bill doesn’t go far enough, and that this year’s test results should have no consequences.
Bills filed in the Florida House and Senate would require high school students to take a one-semester financial literacy course. But with just three weeks left in the legislative session, the proposals (House bill 29 and Senate bill 92) haven’t been discussed by committees.
Now, there’s another option in the Florida Senate to get the class into high schools if the legislative proposals fail. An alternative is now part of the Senate budget plan for the state starting in July. It would create a required financial literacy pilot project in Broward County schools and a grant program that would enable other districts to participate.
A survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling finds about three-quarters of Americans think they would benefit from professional help with their everyday finances.
Criminology major Justin Buis, a junior at Florida State University, has friends who could use the help.
“They have a certain amount of money for a semester and by the time the semester is halfway through, all their money is gone,” Buis says. “They’re living on gas station food or ramen noodles because they don’t know how to manage their money.