Florida

Putting Education Reform To The Test

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The Laboratory: Florida's Education Experiments

Background

If someone has a new idea or theory about education, Florida might be the state most willing to give it a shot. Florida pioneered school choice, voucher programs, testing both student and teacher performance and other reforms now considered nationwide.

Those ideas included the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, a statewide test of math, reading and science given to elementary, middle and high schoolers. The state introduced the second generation of the test this year. Those test results carry consequences, serving as the basis for school report cards and teacher evaluations.

Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa, is using a $100 million Gates Foundation grant to develop a new system to evaluate and train teachers. That system will be applied to Florida teachers statewide in 2012.

Florida voters also approved a state constitutional amendment in 2002 limiting class sizes — as few as 18 students for prekindergarten through grade 3. Voters reaffirmed the amendment in 2010, but lawmakers have exempted schools from some of the mandates due to budget cuts and growing schools.

Latest Posts

How Jeb Bush’s Education Record Will Change The 2016 Republican Primary

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is expected to become a Republican presidential candidate Monday. Education has been a signature issue for Bush. He helped start Florida’s first charter school. He says schools and teachers should be judged on student performance. He pushed for vouchers for private schools. And he spent most of his time since [...]

John Oliver Spends 18 Minutes Shredding Standardized Testing

Republican, Democrat and independent candidates were unanimous Tuesday -- Florida schools test too much.

John Oliver spent 18 minutes taking on standardized testing, teacher evaluations and all things “accountability” related on his show, “Last Week Tonight.” And, of course, Florida plays a starring role. Warning: Salty language, off-color jokes and test monkeys ahead.

Florida Teachers Consider ‘Civil Disobedience’ To Say No To Testing

Miramar High School teacher David Ross says testing has taken more and more time away from teaching. He refused to administer an FCAT make-up exam in protest.

In September, Alachua County kindergarten teacher Susan Bowles refused to give a state reading test. She told the parents of her students it was an act of civil disobedience. The Florida Department of Education later suspended the exam for this year. Florida requires that most students are tested every year. Those results help determine which [...]

Explaining The Unusual Pressure On Florida’s Schools Chief

The State Board of Education removed the first word from interim Education Commissioner Pam Stewart’s title last week. But Board member Kathleen Shanahan had a strange question for a job interview: Tell me again who you work for? “And I just want to make sure from Pam, that she understands – with full clarity – [...]

What Research Says About ‘The Florida Model’ Of Education Policy

Researcher Matthew Di Carlo has gathered the studies and put Florida's education policies under the microscope.

UPDATE: Matthew Ladner, director of policy research for the Foundation for Excellence in Education, responds. The takeaway: “There are very clear signs of aggregate level improvement in Florida, and also a large number of studies at the individual level showing positive results from individual policies.” At the Shanker Blog researcher Matthew Di Carlo reviews the [...]

Indiana Superintendent Tony Bennett Is Florida’s Next Education Commissioner

Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett announced his resignation today.

Citing his experience at many levels of education and his work on new, national Common Core standards, the State Board of Education unanimously chose Tony Bennett as Florida’s next education commissioner. Board members said there will be no learning curve for Bennett when he takes over in Florida. “I think Tony’s experience in being a [...]

Education Foundation Blogger Defends Jeb Bush’s Record

A blogger with the Foundation for Excellence in Education is playing tenacious D over a Reuters story critical of former Gov. Jeb Bush.

Remember that Reuters story last week which took a longer look at claims that Florida schools have improved under former Gov. Jeb Bush’s leadership? A blogger for the Foundation for Excellence in Education — one of two foundations Bush started to support his education agenda — has responded. Mike Thomas counts the Reuters piece among [...]

Why Mitt Romney’s Education Plan Sounds Familiar To Florida — And What’s New

Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney outlines his education plan Wednesday.

Presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney rolled out his education plan Wednesday in Washington, D.C.: More school choice options; reward high-performing charter schools and help them expand; require easy-to-read school report cards. Stop us if you’ve heard this story before. And if Romney’s influences were still a bit cloudy, he made them explicit in his [...]

Bill Gates: Don’t Use Evaluations To Shame

The leading advocate for modern, complex teacher evaluation formulas argues they should not be used for their most basic purpose — comparing one teacher’s score to another. In an op-ed in the New York Times, Microsoft founder Bill Gates argues individual teacher scores should not be a tool to publicly shame low-rated teachers. To do [...]

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