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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Year in Review: Bennett, Common Core, new faces and more



2013 was another big year in education for Florida.

The state lost yet another education commissioner in seemingly record time, with Tony Bennett first defending himself against charges that he helped change a school grade in Indiana for political reasons and then abruptly resigning. Pam Stewart, no stranger to the job, was once again tapped to lead the state Department of Education. 

Before his departure, Bennett supported continuing to pad the state's school grades to prevent dramatic drops. The state Board of Education approved the move, but not all board members were happy

Then there was the controversy about the new Common Core State Standards. Even though Florida had adopted the new standards in 2010 and most schools were already using them or preparing for them, Gov. Rick Scott decided to take a step back in September. He called for public feedback about the standards and had three public hearings held. One was in Tampa.

So far, state officials haven't made any move to abandon the standards, although the state left PARCC.

The state board also lost two of its long-time members, Kathleen Shanahan and Sally Bradshaw

Florida's students saw modest improvements on NAEP. Results on PISA renewed calls from some to better prepare students for college and careers. FCAT scores were mostly flat in 2013, which raised questions about how well students will do against the tougher Common Core State Standards. 

In the Tampa Bay area, three of four school districts got new superintendents in the 2012/13 school year, two appointed and one elected. Mike Grego took the helm in Pinellas County, while Lori Romano won the job in Hernando County. Kurt Browning was elected in Pasco County. In Hillsborough County, MaryEllen Elia kept her place after nearly a decade at the helm, despite criticism from some board members.

Grego hasn't been shy to make changes to the administrative ranks or to the district's application programs, and he earned high praise from the School Board in his first evaluation. Browning, too, has been quick to jump into issues in Pasco County.

Both Grego and Browning pushed for legislative changes. Grego spoke out about the state's graduation requirements, and lawmakers followed with changes. He joined Browning and other superintendents in pushing back against a change in dual-enrollment. That issue hasn't been resolved to the superintendents' liking.

[Last modified: Friday, December 27, 2013 12:01pm]


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