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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of May 26, 2016

School's out for most Florida students. But some third graders will be heading to summer reading camp, as state and district officials continued to battle this week over Florida's promotion rules. Florida's graduation rate continued to rise, although it remained at a lower level than other states. In one Florida County, a student contended her school pushed her into adult programs to try to boost its numbers. The end of classes left more time for districts to talk about budget cuts, construction needs and other issues. Check out the highlights. And don't forget to visit the Gradebook daily for the latest Florida education news.

Top of the Times

In Florida third-grade retention issues, the difference this year is the parents, Sarasota superintendent says, Jeffrey S. Solochek
"A hue and cry over whether children should repeat third grade is nothing new in Florida. The debate has replayed itself since the early 2000's. What's different this year, longtime Sarasota superintendent Lori White observed during a Wednesday news conference, is the parents and their approach to the issue."
RELATED: Florida third-grade promotion decisions are local, Department of Education official says, Jeffrey S. Solochek

Consultant advises Hillsborough school district to shed more than 1,700 jobs, Marlene Sokol
"The Hillsborough County School District can save $404 million over five years, a consultant says. But to do so, it will need to phase out 1,761 front-line jobs, more than half held by teachers."
REPORT: Operational Efficiency Audit - Report of Major Cost Savings Opportunities for Hillsborough County Public Schools

If court strikes down private school tax credit program, public school crowding could follow, Jeffrey S. Solochek
"Surging student enrollment isn't the only pressure Florida school districts face as they try to keep up with growth. Tens of thousands of kids attending private schools using tax credit scholarships could pour back into the system, too, if the courts find that voucher-like program unconstitutional. Combined, they are the size of a large school district."
BY THE NUMBERS: Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program Feb. 2016 Quarterly Report

As charter schools grow, once-wary Hillsborough officials take a friendlier approach, Marlene Sokol
"More than 270,000 Florida students go to charter schools, an enrollment figure that has grown by more than 200 percent over the last decade, according to the Florida Charter School Alliance. That amounts to roughly one in 10 public school students. The schools attract people who find district systems bureaucratic and beholden to unions that protect bad teachers. Critics fear the outcome will be a privatization of education, or a two-tiered system in which district-run schools exist for those who cannot access the charters. But that resistance is wearing down. And nothing illustrates that better than the case of Kid's Community College."

Charter school management company Newpoint Education Partners pleads not guilty, Colleen Wright
"Newpoint Education Partners, a charter school management company that was indicted along with three related companies earlier this month, has pleaded not guilty to charges of grand theft, money laundering and aggravated white collar crime."

Around the State

Was graduation advice a push to leave high school?, Florida Times-Union, Denise Smith Amos
"Kashay Johnson attended Jean Ribault High for four years and was looking forward to the day she'd walk on stage and grasp her diploma alongside her classmates. That dream disappeared when Kashay, 18, was told in April she would have to leave Ribault and enroll in Biscayne High, a charter school, if she hoped to graduate during the current school year. Now she and her mother, Jowanda Jackson, are lodging a complaint with the district, saying Ribault "pushed out" Kashay to bolster the school's graduation rate." [Florida Times-Union photo]

Black educators sue Lee County School Board, Naples Daily News, Thyrie Bland
"Four African-American educators have filed a federal lawsuit against the Lee County School Board alleging that the board discriminates against black people who seek administrative positions."

Report: Palm Beach County schools need $1.2 billion in "critical" repairs, Palm Beach Post, Andrew Marra
"It will cost Palm Beach County's public school system nearly $1.2 billion to make all of the "critical" repairs needed for its growing backlog of deteriorating buildings and equipment at 196 school facilities, a new school district report concludes."

More Lake Nona students have to retake AP tests, Orlando Sentinel, Annie Martin and Leslie Postal
"Five more Advanced Placement exams have been invalidated at Lake Nona High School, forcing about 200 students at the Orange County school to retake them. Exams in chemistry, environmental science, French, physics and Spanish were thrown out by the College Board, which administers them, either because desks were too close together or partitions were set up at the wrong time, school district officials said."

Palm Beach County educator embellishes record, gets top Pittsburgh job, Palm Beach Post, Andrew Marra
"After 18 years as a Palm Beach County school administrator, Anthony Hamlet won the top job in Pittsburgh's public school system last month with a resume boasting a series of successes at turning around struggling campuses. ... But those and some other of Hamlet's claims about his track record in the county's schools appear to be misstatements or exaggerations, The Palm Beach Post has found."

Other Views

New computer science standards useless without incentives, Tallahassee Democrat guest column, FSU physics professor Paul Cottle
"Last Friday, Florida's State Board of Education adopted standards for learning computer science in the state's K-12 schools. It was a meaningless gesture."

FL: District Officials Lose Their Damned Minds, Curmudgucation blog
"School district officials in Sarasota and Manatee counties have completely lost any sense of what they're supposed to be doing. There are areas of policy and practice in the education debates where reasonable people can reach different conclusions about what might be best. This is not one of those times. Some Florida school districts have simply and completely lost the thread."

Our LGBTQ youths have the right to feel safe in schools, Florida Times-Union guest column, JASMYN executive director Cindy Watson
"All youth need safe schools where they can be who they are regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Our LGBTQ youth in Northeast Florida are often pushed aside or targeted for their differences instead of being affirmed in inclusive environments."

School system shifts its focus from punishment to prevention, Herald-Tribune guest column, Sarasota schools superintendent Lori White
"While I am morally and legally obligated to protect student confidentiality, I'd like to share some student incidents and outcomes from this school year without revealing specific students or schools. I think these examples illustrate how we are shifting our focus from punishment to prevention, and that this approach is working well in Sarasota County's public schools."

What Happens When a School Gets a Failing Grade? It Gets Better, The Seventy-Four
"In fact, there is evidence that suggests giving grades to schools has an impact on student outcomes, at least for schools that get the lowest grade. According to research in New York City and Florida, these schools respond by improving their students' test scores - and it doesn't appear that gains are just the result of gaming the system or teaching to the test."

As Florida Catholic schools grow again, disadvantaged students benefit, reDefined
This year, for the fifth year in a row, Catholic schools in Florida did not do what Catholic schools across America are doing. They didn't close and shrink. They grew. Behind the trend lines are students like Camron Merritt.

Reports of Note

Diplomas Count 2016, Education Week
"In this year's most recently available figures, the national average reached another all-time high: 82 percent for the class of 2014. Inequities remain, even as some racial and ethnic graduation gaps narrow or close. But the overall picture is one of progress."
DATA: Florida remained behind the national rate, while showing modest improvement

FACT SHEET: Supporting Dual Language Learners in Early Learning Settings, U.S. Department of Education
"Data indicate that about one in five school-aged children speak a language other than English at home, a figure that has more than doubled in the past few decades. Estimates suggest that this number may be even higher for learners under the age of six; for example, nearly a third of children in Head Start programs are DLLs. Research with young DLLs clearly reflects that children's bilingual skill development promotes overall language development and should be encouraged. ...
"Additional Announcements Made at Today's Convening Include: Too Small to Fail, in partnership with the Early Learning Coalition of Miami- Dade and Monroe County and Univision will launch a new citywide ‘Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing' public awareness campaign in Miami, with an emphasis on reaching families of young DLLs."
RELATED: Policy Statement

Examining the validity of ratings from a classroom observation instrument for use in a district's teacher evaluation system, WestEd
"The analysis showed that principals discriminated among teachers they thought to be effective and highly effective, the two highest points on the rating scale; they rarely identified teachers as minimally effective or ineffective (approximately 10 percent of ratings were in the lowest two categories). Additionally, individual component ratings did not appear to measure distinct aspects of teaching."

Households' Geographic Access to Center-based Early Care and Education: Estimates and Methodology from the National Survey of Early Care and Education
"The results indicate that there are significant differences in households' geographic access to centers providing parent-paid care, infant/toddler care, full-time care, and care supported by different sources of public funding."

[Last modified: Friday, June 3, 2016 2:17pm]


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