Friday, July 20, 2018

Commissioner rejects Florida lawmakers’ allegations of civics test misdeeds

Florida education commissioner Pam Stewart has flatly rejected six lawmakers' suggestion that three school districts — and perhaps more — played fast and loose with which students took the state civics exam as a way to game the school grading system.

"At this time, we do not have any evidence that the districts you listed have done anything that is in violation of the law or improperly manipulated the accountability system," Stewart wrote to the lawmakers on Tuesday.

Read Stewart's letter to lawmakers here 

In fact, Stewart continued, the idea that some districts delayed having students take the required course and test until they are better prepared could be considered a wise move.

"Data we have from other districts indicates that in some cases, delaying the year [the] civics course is taken in middle school can result in more students passing the exam and, thus, can be an educationally sound decision," she wrote, noting that some other districts had taken a similar step in past years.

Those included Osceola, Bradford and Sarasota.

The lawmakers called for a review of the practice after reading a complaint by the conservative Florida Coalition of School Board Members, which accused Polk, Manatee and Duval counties of gaming the system.  The lawmakers used incendiary language, without proof, to suggest that even more school districts might be using the "same shameful practices."

Stewart noted that the state mandates the civics course and test, but does not say at what grade level schools must offer it. She said she expected the number of test-takers to rise in future years, as students who didn't take it in 2018 as seventh graders will have to take in in 2019 to meet the requirement.

Related: Six lawmakers call for review of civics test administration in three Florida counties 

Comments
Pasco school district to consider new social media policy

Pasco school district to consider new social media policy

Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites have become common ways for Pasco County schools to reach students, parents and the public over the past five years.The district issued usage guidelines in 2013. Now the administration is asking the Scho...
Updated: 5 hours ago
State lawyers file response in education funding lawsuit before Florida’s Supreme Court

State lawyers file response in education funding lawsuit before Florida’s Supreme Court

After lagging for months, the lawsuit challenging Florida's education funding system gained traction again this week, with lawyers submitting arguments urging the state Supreme Court to kill the case rather than send it back to a lower...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Florida education news: Parent voices, teacher tests, Amendment 8 and more

Florida education news: Parent voices, teacher tests, Amendment 8 and more

PARENT VOICES: Pinellas County mom Linda Kearschner becomes Florida PTA president, and vows to work on key issues to better education for all children regardless of background — even if lawmakers seem not to be listening. "The bi...
Updated: 12 hours ago
The contest for School Board District 4

The contest for School Board District 4

Melissa Snively, now running for a second term to represent East Hillsborough County on the Hillsborough County School Board, discussed the district budget, low-performing schools, morale in the ranks and the elimination of courtesy busing in her edi...
Published: 07/20/18
Pinellas parent becomes Florida PTA president

Pinellas parent becomes Florida PTA president

Linda Kearschner first joined the PTA at Azalea Elementary School because her daughter was starting kindergarten."I think we all start in PTA because of our own child," she said. "But then we realize to make the world a better place … we need t...
Published: 07/19/18
Hillsborough school board candidates speak their minds

Hillsborough school board candidates speak their minds

You heard from the candidates for Hillsborough County School Board in District 1 and District 2. Four of the six candidates for the countywide District 6 seat also interviewed for Times editorial board endorsements. Here is some of what they had to s...
Published: 07/19/18
Gradebook podcast: Fighting Amendment 8, with Florida League of Women Voters president Patricia Brigham

Gradebook podcast: Fighting Amendment 8, with Florida League of Women Voters president Patricia Brigham

Supporters of Florida Constitution Revision Commission Amendment 8 focus on the part that would create school board term limits, viewing it as a popular idea that could push the proposal to the 60 percent vote needed for passage.Critics say the measu...
Published: 07/19/18
Florida education news: Turnarounds, vouchers, charter schools and more

Florida education news: Turnarounds, vouchers, charter schools and more

TURNAROUNDS: With 2018 state grades out, Hillsborough and Pinellas school district leaders bring improvement plans for their most struggling campuses to the Florida Board of Education for approval. Each gets warnings that their plans m...
Published: 07/19/18
Credit recovery high school closes

Credit recovery high school closes

Hillsborough County this year will have two, not three alternative charter high schools operated by the Accelerated Learning Solutions management group.Town and Country Charter High School is being shut down because of low enrollment, the company con...
Published: 07/18/18
Florida Board of Education adopts rules on scholarships for bullied students

Florida Board of Education adopts rules on scholarships for bullied students

Satisfied the program has safeguards in place to prevent fraud, the Florida Board of Education on Wednesday adopted a rule governing the state's new tax-credit scholarship for students who claim they have been bullied in public school.In craftin...
Published: 07/18/18