The National Association of Charter School Authorizers is working with the state of Florida to ensure that school districts and other organizations charged with approving charter schools have plenty of background information on the applicants.
NACSA announced Monday the launch of a charter operator tracker, still in development, that provides information about charter management groups and the schools they have operated, currently or in the past. The site, available to authorizers throughout the state, includes links to performance and financial reports among other data for review.
"If you hire someone to run your business, you want to know where they've been working and what kind of results they've had. If an organization has done charter school management work before or is doing it now in other places, authorizers should know where and how well they're doing it," William Haft, NACSA vice president, said in a release. "We are designing the Tracker to help school boards approve only quality options for the children and families in their districts." …
Alpine Testing Solutions, the firm conducting Florida's testing validity study, reports that its work should be completed by the Sept. 1 deadline that lawmakers set.
The group has received much of the documentation it requested, and conducted several interviews in gathering information to help reach findings. One area where Alpine has requested more specifics is that of test administration -- perhaps the area of greatest concern after a spring filled with computer testing problems.
"Based on the feedback from district assessment coordinators and staff, Alpine has requested additional information from FLDOE and AIR, specifically any quantitative data related to the administration issues that were reported," the reviewers wrote in their July status update. "The quantitative data will be used to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the number of students that were impacted by each issue as well as the degree of impact."
The group has not offered any findings at this time. It expects to include those with its final report, scheduled for delivery Aug. 28.
Flooding in western Pasco County has prompted the school district to relocate children in the PLACE summer programs at four elementary schools.
Children who normally attend Fox Hollow and Chasco elementary PLACE will be taken to Chasco Middle, those who go to Marlowe Elementary PLACE will be bused to Deer Park Elementary, and children at Anclote and Richey elementary schools will move to Cotee River Elementary. Gulf High School is also operating on a skeleton crew.
Flooded roads have prevented many employees from getting to the campuses.
District officials said they will continue to monitor situations and make adjustments if conditions worsen, making it more difficult for parents to get to schools to pick up their children. They plan to send out automated calls to affected families as necessary.
The Hillsborough County school district has released school-by-school results of the past year's climate survey, allowing for comparisons from one school to another.
Giant caveat: This year, because students were so over-burdened with state testing, the district decided to give the survey to a sample of students and not all 207,000. Officials said they are confident the sample was large enough, especially for identifying districtwide trends. But responses came from only about 30 percent of the students.
Keep in mind, when viewing this list, that at some schools, answers came from as few as 20 percent of the students. You'll find the data here for elementary schools A-I, J-R and R-Y; and secondary schools A-M and N-Y. …
Education commissioner Pam Stewart has repeated the Governor's Office contention that her department may release $60 million in classroom technology funding despite the governor's veto of a study lawmakers had attached to the money.
The governor's staff argued the veto simply deleted the connection between the analysis and the money. Stewart took the same position:
"In sum, section 7 of the implementing bill that amended s. 1011.62(12)(g) F.S., to require the Department to contract with a third-party entity to conduct an assessment of digital readiness, implemented the proviso language attached to Specific Appropriation 130 that was vetoed. Therefore, the portions of the implementing bill pertaining to this vetoed appropriation and proviso language are void. All of the remaining requirements that are not dependent on the independent digital readiness assessment remain in effect."
The Land O'Lakes High School unified soccer team, representing the USA, defeated China 2-1 on Friday to claim the bronze medal at the World Special Olympics in Los Angeles. Needless to say, the players were excited.
Andy Dunn, the district's videographer, was there.
Pasco school district officials an evaluation system in which fewer teachers attain a "highly effective" rating. United School Employees of Pasco leaders aim to keep that score open to as many teachers as possible.
They expect to land somewhere in between.
Early in the week, the union took a step toward the district's position, acknowledging a teacher should have at least one "innovating" mark on an evaluation to be considered "highly effective." On Thursday, district negotiators edged slightly closer to the union view, cutting their proposal for the percentage of "innovating" elements to 40 percent (down from 60 percent) in 2015-16, and 50 percent the following year.
The district did not move from its call that student performance count as 35 percent of the overall evaluation, instead of 50 percent as in past years. The USEP had asked the district to see which level benefits most teachers before making that determination.
Before Thursday's session, the USEP issued a memo to members explaining its position. …
Among the many criticisms comes one that the offer of up to $10,000 provides a phony opportunity for educators who want to retake the gatekeeper SAT or ACT exams in order to qualify.
The state says "Teachers rated highly effective may retake the ACT or SAT in order to earn the scholarship; however, the requisite documentation that they have met the current 80th percentile ranking must be submitted to the district by the October 1 deadline."
Bob Schaeffer of FairTest is among many to point out that the next SAT testing date is Oct. 3 -- too late -- while the next ACT exam poses problems even though it comes Sept. 12. The ACT website advises that while scores are generally available online within two weeks after the test date (just under the wire), score reports are normally released three to eight weeks after the test. …
The Hernando County school district has plucked its new communications and public information director from neighboring Citrus County schools.
Karen Jordan, a program specialist for the Citrus district, is set to take over the public speaking function for Hernando the week after next. She replaces Eric Williams, who was promoted to deputy superintendent.
Williams moved to his new post earlier this summer. Patrick Keough has filled in as spokesman but is expected to hand back that role after Jordan's arrival.
The Pasco school district's non-instruction employee bargaining team did not conclude contract negotiations Wednesday, as hoped, during a daylong bargaining session.
United School Employees of Pasco lead negotiator Jim Ciadella said he felt positive about the talks, and that the sides were close enough to agreement to plan another meeting for Monday.
"Given another session or two, we can settle the contract," Ciadella said.
District employee relations director Betsy Kuhn agreed, calling Wednesday's session "very productive."
The primary sticking point for the group remained economic. The union counted the district's offer of 3 percent average raises by asking for a minimum of 3 percent for all the workers. That means employees scheduled to see more would still get the larger increases, while those who might get less would receive at least 3 percent.
All said, the union asked for 3.48 percent in added pay.
"We realize the budget is what it is," Ciadella said. "We hope the district can do a little bit better." …
"They just worked out the details over the weekend," Cobbe said before the Tuesday session.
The item now appears on the board's Aug. 4 agenda. If approved, the contract calls for the buyer to build commercially on part of the land, most likely a gas station, after receiving needed city permits.
It also provides for the buyer to donate nearly 10 acres to the city for continued use as a public park. That property would revert back to the district if the donation does not go through within two years.
The future of the property, known as the Hercules site, has been in doubt since 2011, when the county goverment closed its swimming pool in the park. The district has discussed options since 2013.
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.