ICYMI: Florida education news roundup, week of Nov. 8, 2015
With the Florida Legislature's redistricting special session ended, state lawmakers began submitting more education bills of note this past week. They're seeking to change the rules on charter schools, choice, student discipline and a host of other hot-button issues. See our Recently Filed section below for a quick rundown of the most notable measures. The statewide debate over testing cut scores continued, while districts dealt with teacher contracts, home school rules, superintendent renewals and student uniforms, among other matters. Visit the Gradebook daily for the latest in Florida education news. And be sure to keep in touch via email, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Top of the Times
Pinellas teachers reject contract in Thursday vote, Colleen Wright
"Teachers across the Pinellas County school district voted Thursday to reject a controversial proposed contract for this year, sending negotiators back to the bargaining table."
Hernando School Board members faced with two images of superintendent as they consider contract extension, Dan DeWitt
"Two images. Two sides of the most divisive issue the board currently faces - Lori Romano herself. Negotiations to extend her contract have been fast-tracked by her job search - including an application to run the larger, wealthier Osceola County district - and by her main supporter on the board, Chairman Gus Guadagnino."
Commissioner's FSA cut score recommendations are final, spokeswoman says, Jeffrey S. Solochek
"If the Florida Board of Education wants to increase state test cut scores to reflect NAEP proficiency, state education commissioner Pam Stewart isn't offering any cover. Stewart has no plans to alter her Florida Standards Assessments cut score recommendations, which she issued in September, a Department of Education spokeswoman told the Gradebook."
RELATED: Don't 'force fit' Florida test cut scores to NAEP, superintendents urge State Board, Jeffrey S. Solochek
Around the State
For Warfield Elementary School, success - and ‘A' grades - came from a variety of factors, Stuart News, Cynthia Washam
"Students at Warfield Elementary School are expected to fail. They're poor. They live in homes without books, newspapers or magazines; certainly not with computers. Until kindergarten, many speak only Spanish or a Mayan dialect from their parents' native Guatemala. For each of the first four years, Florida graded schools based on test scores, and Warfield lived up to people's expectations by earning Ds. Then in 2003, its letter grade - based on student performance on standardized tests - jumped to a B. The next year, it reached A, where it's stayed for 11 years."
Attorney says three home school families told to end program, Santa Rosa Press-Gazette
"Have any Santa Rosa County school officials ordered the termination of any home education programs and demand students attend public school? Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) Attorney Thomas J Schmidt sent a letter out saying three families so far received correspondence from the Santa Rosa County School District (SRSD) to this effect."
Palm Beach County schools have some of state's worst achievement gaps, Palm Beach Post, Andrew Marra
"Palm Beach County's public school system bills itself as Florida's ‘top-performing urban school district,' but its high rating masks some of the state's largest racial achievement gaps."
Volusia signs off on school uniforms, Daytona Beach News-Journal, Dustin Wyatt
"School uniforms are coming to Volusia County next year, but School Board members still need to decide what shirts, pants and shoes students will be expected to wear. ...If Volusia follows through with the plan, it will become the fifth school district in Florida to have a uniform policy."
Local support group: Homeschool laws don't need to change after Janiya Thomas death, Bradenton Herald, Meghin Delaney
"A local homeschool support groups objects to potential changes in the homeschool law proposed by local law enforcement and being discussed by the Manatee County School Board. ‘The tragic death of Janiya Thomas is not a homeschool issue,' said Debbie Dykes, coordinator of the SHARE Homeschool Support Group, an organization that has served area families since 1991."
RELATED: Manatee County School Board debates homeschool bill being drafted in aftermath of Janiya Thomas, Bradenton Herald
Reports of Note
Testing Reform Victories 2015, FairTest, Lisa Guisbond with Monty Neill and Bob Schaeffer
"The movement's growth and accomplishments are tremendously encouraging. But it's far too early to declare victory and go home. In the 2015-2016 school year, activists will use lessons learned from their initial battles to further expand and strengthen the resistance movement and ensure political leaders go beyond lip service to implement meaningful assessment reforms."
AERA Statement on Use of Value-Added Models (VAM) for the Evaluation of Educators and Educator Preparation Programs
"Many states and districts have incorporated VAM in a comprehensive system to evaluate teachers, principals, and educator preparation programs. There are considerable risks of misclassification and misinterpretation in the use of VAM to inform these evaluations."
Fundamental Change Innovation in America's Schools Under Race to the Top, U.S. Department of Education
"Race to the Top's success ultimately must be measured by its long-term impact on student learning. Because simultaneous change in multiple systems takes time, it is too early to make that determination of success now. However, many outcomes are trending in a positive direction, including higher graduation rates and Advanced Placement (AP) course taking (see pages ix and xiii). This report focuses on implementation - the successes and challenges to institutionalize broad and deep improvements throughout states. It also seeks to highlight the key practices and lessons learned during the first five years of implementing Race to the Top."
State Summative Assessments: 2015-16 School Year, Education Commission of the States
Stupid ideas from legislators, Citrus County Chronicle op-ed, former Citrus School Board member Pat Deutschman
"It seems like common sense goes out the window when Legislators think they have a better idea about what is best for the people they represent without checking with those affected first. Merit pay for teachers has been controversial since one cockamamie idea after another has been proposed and created into law only to be discarded the following year after proving to be - cockamamie. This year's "Best and Brightest" plan is no different, it may actually be the most ridiculous one yet."
Legislature should kill bill that would hurt the poorest the most, Keynoter editorial
"A Republican state lawmaker from the Daytona Beach area wants to put more of a financial onus on those who can least afford it: The poor and financially struggling. In the high-cost Keys, it would be especially hard-hitting for those who could least afford it."
SB 788, Safe Paths to Schools, by Sen. Maria Sachs
"As a part of the Safe Paths to Schools Program, the department shall may establish a grant program to fund local, regional, and state bicycle and pedestrian projects that support 18 the program."
SB 808, Charter Schools, by Sen. Jeff Brandes
"A district school board or a municipal governing authority may sponsor a charter school in the county or the municipality over which the district school board or the municipal governing authority has jurisdiction."
HB 625, Student Discipline, by Rep. Shevrin Jones
"Each district school board must establish a success center for students who receive an out-of-school suspension. Such centers shall use instructional teaching methods appropriate to the specific needs of the student and must have instructional personnel and a guidance counselor or social worker on staff. Each success center shall maintain for each participating student records documenting the reason for the student's placement at the center, the length of participation, and an evaluation of the student's academic and behavioral performance while assigned to the success center."
SB 834, Student Funding, by Sen. Nancy Detert
"A student who receives instruction in a school that operates for less than the minimum term shall generate a full- time equivalent student proportional to the amount of instructional hours provided by the school divided by the minimum term requirement as defined in s. 1011.60."
SB 830, School Choice, by Sen. Kelli Stargel
"A charter school may not deny the application or continued enrollment of a student based on the student's current or prior academic performance, including grade retention."