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.
South Florida school districts will start adding a seal to high school diplomas of students who prove they are fluent in English and another language. Ten states have approved the designation, and six Florida districts are certifying bilingual students. Advocates want Florida to pass a law as well.
Less than one in three students in the 50 largest U.S. cities take the SAT or ACT college entrance exams. In Tampa, it’s 18.5 percent, Jacksonville 16.7 percent and Miami 14.1 percent of students. The report from the Center for Reinventing Public Education highlights a number of disparities between schools in cities and schools elsewhere.
Florida education policies, including Common Core-based standards, testing and school grades, could be big issues in both Democratic and Republican state legislative races next year. The field could also be expanded, with all 160 up fro grabs depending on how the redistricting process works out.
Florida school districts received the first round of test results from the Florida Standards Assessments this week.
The results show what percentage of students in each district scored within each quartile of all Florida students taking the exams. Parents can expect more detailed scores for their students next month.
The state is now setting cut scores for the the exams, which will determine what percentage of students are meeting state goals. Eventually, the state plans to issue A-to-F grades for every public school that will include Florida Standards Assessments results.
For years, lawmakers have chipped away at a constitutional amendment limiting class sizes. They’ve added exemptions and loopholes. But a Boca Raton dad has filed a lawsuit because his son’s kindergarten class has too many students.
The Palm Beach County school board is challenging a state law after the State Board of Education overruled a decision to reject a new charter school. The Palm Beach school board argues they have the exclusive right to establish and oversee charter schools in the district.