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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of Oct. 25



Testing returned to the top of Florida's education fever chart this past week, with the release of NAEP scores -- a "disaster" in one State Board member's view -- and a divided (if not divisive) State Board public hearing on cut scores, school grades and accountability. State leaders appeared to draw a line in the sand despite parent and educator requests for a slowdown, paving the path for a future showdown. There was so much more, too. Hillsborough County's celebrated Gates-funded teacher evaluation program crumbled amid financial concerns. A Polk County teacher's resignation letter sparked national attention. And Gov. Rick Scott made a controversial appointment to the Florida Board of Education. Follow these stories and more daily on the Gradebook.

Top of the Times

Hillsborough schools to shelve Gates-funded system that cost millions to develop, Marlene Sokol
"After six years of effort, high hopes and more than $180 million spent, the Hillsborough County school system is unraveling the teacher evaluation system it developed with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation."
COLUMN: An investment in bureaucracy over kids, Dan Ruth

Amid new test results, a call in Florida to 'be honest' about student performance, Jeffrey S. Solochek
"The senior member of Florida's State Board of Education called for more honesty in test score reporting Wednesday, just hours after the release of new nationwide data showing student performance had slipped in key areas."
BLOG POST: Are Florida's state, local education leaders headed on collision course over accountability?

Pinellas may expand teacher evaluations, Colleen Wright
"The Pinellas County School Board will vote Tuesday on the expansion of an evaluation system that would require more observation of teachers and noninstructional school staff, and rely less on test scores."

Former state lawmaker Tom Grady appointed to Florida Board of Education, Jeffrey S. Solochek
"Former one-term state Rep. Tom Grady, a Naples Republican and friend of Gov. Rick Scott, has won Scott's nod to sit on the Florida Board of Education. During his brief tenure in the House, Grady was notable for billing taxpayers for flying on private planes owned by a campaign donor. He also pushed for tax breaks for some of Florida's richest residents."

Around the State

Controversial signs remind students of their right to not recite 'Pledge of Allegiance,' WEAR-TV
"The head of Santa Rosa schools spoke out Tuesday, against controversial signs he says the district is forced to put up in its classroom. The signs are a reminder to students that they do not have to say the pledge of allegiance."

FL's 8th-grade math scores on national test fall, follow national dip, Orlando Sentinel, Leslie Postal
"Florida's eighth graders in 2015 scored worse on a national math test than counterparts two years ago, showing a drop that was steeper than the nation's but followed a country-wide trend, results released this morning showed."

Parents call for better failing grade warnings from Manatee County School District, Bradenton Herald, Meghin Delaney
"A group of parents concerned they're not given enough warning their students are failing state tests -- and subsequently pulled out of core classes and placed in intensive remediation courses -- shared their concerns Wednesday with Manatee County School District officials in hopes of improved collaboration."

Polk County teacher's resignation result of standardized testing, Bay News 9, Laurie Davison
"A Polk County teacher has posted her resignation letter online and it's gone viral. Wendy Bradshaw said she can't justify making students cry anymore. She said the problem is standardized testing. ‘How am I supposed to be an effective teacher when I'm not allowed to do what is best for students?' she said."

Reports of Note

The Nation's Report Card: 2015 Mathematics & Reading Assessments, with video

Study of the Alignment of the 2015 NAEP Mathematics Items at Grades 4 and 8 to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for Mathematics, AIR NAEP Validity Study Panel
"The agreement between NAEP and the CCSS is uneven across the five NAEP content areas, and, at grade 8, 42% of middle-grade CCSS standards are not assessed by any items in the 2015 NAEP item pool."

Online Charter School Study 2015, Stanford University Center for Research on Education Outcomes
PRESS RELEASE: "While findings vary for each student, the results in CREDO's report show that the majority of online charter students had far weaker academic growth in both math and reading compared to their traditional public school peers. To conceptualize this shortfall, it would equate to a student losing 72 days of learning in reading and 180 days of learning in math, based on a 180-day school year. This pattern of weaker growth remained consistent across racial-ethnic subpopulations and students in poverty."

Other Views

A two percent cap on testing misses the point, TNTP Blog, Hillsborough County teacher Kelly Zunkiewicz

Testing advocates lack accountability, Gainesville Sun editorial

Surprise: Florida and Texas Excel in Math and Reading Scores, New York Times Upshot blog, David Leonhardt

2015 NAEP: Florida's Middle School Math Meltdown, Bridge to Tomorrow blog, FSU professor Paul Cottle

NAEP 2015: Should we worry or celebrate?, Florida League of Women Voters - Education Issues blog

Recently Filed

State Board of Education Rule 6A-1.09981, School and District Accountability
VIDEO: Watch a recent Department of Education rulemaking workshop on the subject.
BLOG POST: Read a summary of some of the major proposed changes.

SB 672, Educational Options, by Sen. Don Gaetz

HB 443, Pre-AICE and AICE Programs, by Rep. Rene Plasencia

[Last modified: Friday, October 30, 2015 2:04pm]


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