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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

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Tb_pinretention_450 MOVE ALONG: Pinellas schools adopted a tough measure to keep unprepared students from advancing into middle and high school. But flexibility in the system, rather than total adherence to FCAT scores, has meant fewer fifth- and eighth-graders being retained. Some cheer the success, while others wonder if the standard is too low. (Times photo, Douglas Clifford)

HANDS OFF EDUCATION: Threats to cut billions from the state education budget threatens to derail a proposal to change Florida's property tax system. Here are versions from the Tallahassee Democrat, Orlando Sentinel and Sun-Sentinel.

DO NOT PASS GO: Anthony Giancola, the former Van Buren Middle principal arrested for buying crack in his school office from an undercover cop, heads directly to jail. He also forfeits his educator license.

HIRING QUESTIONS: The Hillsborough School Board rarely asks questions about the superintendent's hiring decisions. But that changed when two veteran department heads were passed over for outsiders who were the only ones to get interviews.

LANGUAGE INFUSION: Three people fluent in Mandarin Chinese are getting certified to teach the language to Pasco County students. While awaiting the classes to begin, the district is studying curriculum and looking at other ways, like clubs, to get Chinese into the classrooms.

Florida's scoring error on the 2006 third-grade FCAT morphs into a broader national debate over high-stakes testing, Education Week reports.

WE'RE NOT EVEN CLOSE TO NO. 1: Florida remains near the bottom of the nation when it comes to high school graduation rates, the AP reports. The story relies on Diplomas Count, an Education Week report that uses averages rather than hard stats, something that state education officials say render the analysis useless.

FACING CUTS? PRIVATIZE: An innovative Ohio high school program was headed for the chopping block until its leaders decided to turn it into a charter school, making it eligible for money it otherwise couldn't get the NY Times reports.

HOORAY! OK, this technically isn't news. But thanks to all your interest, last night the Gradebook logged in its 50,000th page view since we launched in February. We appreciate your readership. Please keep coming back, and let us know if there's anything we can do to make our blog even better for you.

Visit the Gradebook later this morning for reports from the FCAT advisory panel meeting. The group starts its second session at 8:30 a.m. in Tampa.

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:18am]


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