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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Education summit kicks off with reflections

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart leads a discussion at the opening day of the education summit Monday.

Scott Keeler / Tampa Bay Times

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart leads a discussion at the opening day of the education summit Monday.



Florida's three-day Education Accountability Summit, designed to tackle some of the state's most controversial and challenging education topics, started off Monday afternoon on a positive note.

Actually, about three dozen of them.

For roughly 40 minutes, educators and parents and other interested individuals went around a room at the Collaborative Labs at St. Petersburg College to talk about some of the current strengths of Florida education.

Pam Stewart, Florida's interim commissioner of education, said one of the strengths in the state are school grades. She remembered her time as a principal during the first year of school grades - and the F her school earned that year. She said that grade got them moving faster than they might have otherwise.

"An F really got our attention," she said. "We moved that school from an F to a C in one year." She added: "The positive was that those students in that school benefited tremendously."

Many of those in the group talked about the outstanding teachers and how the state is a trendsetter for other states when it comes to state standards.

"Everybody looks at Florida as a leader," said Rep. Erik Fresen. While all the invited guests were supposed to list strengths during their introductions, they often veered from the course.

Joanne McCall of the Florida Education Association said teachers are frustrated with the current evaluation system. "They don't feel the system has value and they don't trust the system," she said.

The first day of the summit that will address four primary areas: State standards, state standard assessments, school grades and teacher evaluations. To kick things off Monday, Stewart gave a brief introduction, commending the diverse group for coming together: "I believe that this is in fact an unprecedented meeting. I don’t think you could find another state that would be calling together this group of folks to do this important work."

Following the speech and other introductions, Florida education officials gave background presentation on the four topics of the day. After the background presentations, summit participants were expected to break into small groups to discuss them.

[Last modified: Monday, August 26, 2013 3:42pm]


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