Sen. John Legg, R-Trinity, released a letter Monday in which he asked the Senate secretary to officially record his opposition to a resolution honoring outgoing Florida Education Association president Andy Ford and his contributions to public education.
Legg took particular umbrage to the statement that Ford "focused his efforts on high-quality public schools for every student, dignity and justice for all workers, equal opportunities regardless of race or gender, and furthering of education as a means for individuals to achieve the great American dream."
"The bottom line is they're suing a program that is helping kids," Legg said, referring to the FEA's participation in a lawsuit challenging Florida's tax credit scholarship program. "I have nothing against Andy personally."
He said he would have voted against the Ford resolution, presented by Tampa Democrat Sen. Arthenia Joyner on the last day of session. However, he noted, such resolutions are automatically adopted by publication.
"There is no way to formally object," Legg said. "There's no way to vote no." …
This clip on standardized testing from John Oliver's Last Week Tonight would be funny if it weren't what so many parents and educators fight daily. Not surprisingly, Florida appears prominently in the discussion.
During negotiations, the district proposed to permit to donate up to 100 days of unused sick time to others who need the assistance, having exhausted their own accumulated leave. It asked the United School Employees of Pasco to accept the idea as a joint contract "opener," so each side would still have three issues to bring to the table.
In the past, the issue of sick time sharing has had support from teachers and other workers. The sides have not reached any formal agreement on this latest idea. They began bargaining for 2015-16 last week.
The passage of HB 7069 into law changed the rules for evaluating Florida students and teachers. Exactly how has been the subject of much debate.
There's been a healthy back and forth, for instance, over whether the Legislature's action gave school districts more flexibility on retaining third graders who score at the lowest levels of the state reading test.
After learning of the teacher's advice to students, the district Employee Relations department began looking into the details. Supervisors interviewed several students, district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said, and planned to talk to more teens to determine the full extent of the situation.
They have not yet met with the teacher, whose name is not being released.
Superintendent Kurt Browning has spoken out against over-testing, cutting district-mandated EOC's in addition to calling for a pause to the consequences associated with state test results. He has made clear, however, that the district does not support the opt-out movement. As such, a teacher should not be promoting it in classes or to students, spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said.
"It's something that is disruptive and not how we want teachers to represent," Cobbe said. "Their responsibility is to teach and to get kids to follow the law." …
For those of you keeping track, the Highlands County school district suspended its local end-of-course exams on Thursday along with Pasco County. They joined a growing list that includes Pinellas, Miami-Dade, Leon, Broward, Charlotte, Manatee, Lee and Walton counties.
Others have chosen not to eliminate tests, including Collier and Okaloosa counties.
Here's what Highlands superintendent Wally Cox, a regular before legislative committees, said in his release:
The School Board of Highlands County believes that assessment is an important part of the learning process and that students' progress should be measured, and results reported in simple, transparent formats. It is also our belief that we must restore the learning environment by reducing testing requirements. Effective immediately, the School Board of Highlands County will make the following changes: …
"Students enrolled in Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, US History, Biology and Middle School Civics will continue to participate in the End of Course Exams for assessment purposes," the statement reads. "However, the result of these assessments will have no impact on the final grade parents see on the student’s report card."
The move has some parents wondering if their districts might do the same thing. It raises the question, can they do that? According to the state Department of Education, the answer is "No."
A department spokeswoman noted that current law states the tests will count as 30 percent of a student's final course grade, and the latest amendment to that law doesn't change the requirement. The new rules reiterate: …
Read superintendent Kurt Browning's statement below:
After much consideration, I have decided that for the 2014-2015 school year, district EOCs (including 2nd and 5th grade art, music, and PE) will not be required. However, in accordance with expectations, each teacher must administer a standards-based assessment in each class in all grade levels. To provide greater flexibility to our schools, teachers have the option of selecting a teacher-developed and principal-approved instrument, or they may administer the district-developed EOC. The principal must certify that any teacher-developed exam measures the Florida Standards for that course. …
Hearing complaints that state tests carry too many consequences, the Hechinger Report reviewed the stakes attached to Common Core-associated exams in 44 states and the District of Columbia. Its question was, essentially, how will each state use its test scores?
"We found that very few states will be using this spring’s scores for any student-related decisions. And the stakes for teachers are only slightly higher," the authors concluded.
When you look at the interactive maps, though, one thing stands out: Florida. It's among the small number of states that use the tests as a high school graduation requirement, a promotion/retention arbiter in certain grades and a portion of teacher evaluations.
Of course, many Florida students experience no mandatory adverse effects from their test results. But compared to other states, Florida's stakes are high.
A Senate proposal expanding services for children with unique abilities may have virtually no chance of becoming law this year, but the Senate passed the bill anyway and sent it to the empty Florida House of Representatives.
The bill (SB 602) was a top priority for Senate President Andy Gardiner, whose son Andrew has Down Syndrome. It would have expanded the Personal Learning Scholarship Account program, which provides $10,000 scholarships to children with special needs. The money can be used for tutoring services, various types of therapy and college tuition, among other things.
The Senate could have voted on version of the bill amended by the House -- and sent it along to Gov. Rick Scott. But Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, took issue with a provision that would have allowed about $300 to be deducted from each child's award and given to the organization that runs the program as an administrative fee.
Gaetz said the House language did not "meet [Gardiner's] moral standard" -- the Senate version of the bill made it clear that the administrative fee could not come from student scholarships -- and slammed the organization, Step Up for Students. …
Gradebook features education articles and insights on schools in Florida, focusing on Tampa Bay area schools. What's the latest from the Florida Department of Education? How is the FCAT being used to compare Florida schools? What's going on in Tampa Bay schools? Get an insider's view from the Times education reporting team.