Monday, December 18, 2017
Education

Hillsborough School Board takes a stand on testing

TAMPA — It took discussions all morning at a workshop session, then a bit of a power struggle toward the evening.

But the Hillsborough County School Board ultimately took a position Tuesday on the abundance of student testing.

By a 6-1 vote, with member Stacy White dissenting, the board agreed to ask the Florida Legislature and Department of Education to hold off making any more changes to the testing system for three years and to provide funding to cover the cost of existing testing requirements.

At the request of member Susan Valdes, Chairwoman Candy Olson's resolution also asked for accommodations to protect students who are learning-disabled or new English speakers.

At an afternoon board meeting, White introduced his own resolution, which included detailed information about test scores in Hillsborough. And Valdes tried to fine-tune the wording on the issue of English language learners before agreeing to support Olson's document.

Olson asked White if he would go along with her version to make the move unanimous.

"Madam chair, I'm going to let my 'no' vote stand," he said.

Testing — the subject of school board resolutions around the nation and state — has troubled Olson for months.

At the board workshop on the issue, members spent more than an hour learning about state-ordered tests, national tests and the end-of-course exams that have existed in Hillsborough since 1984.

Asked if some tests could be eliminated, assessment director Samuel Whitten told members, "When you take something out, you provide less information for the teacher."

But as in other districts, problems this year with the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test fueled members' determination to take action.

"The state can't get it right," member Carol Kurdell said at the workshop.

The National Center for Fair and Open Testing reports that 23 Florida districts have signed either a national antitesting resolution, one from the Florida School Boards Association or their own.

Not including Hillsborough, these counties represent more than half the state's 2.6 million public school students.

At the workshop, superintendent MaryEllen Elia reminded the board that in two years, Hillsborough will come under Common Core, a state-led effort to develop national academic standards. The transition will require a multitude of changes in how the district teaches and tests.

"We need to look forward," Elia said. "There have been issues. I think we can all face those issues. But we've got to move forward and 2014-2015 is looming in front of us with a test that is going to be very different."

Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 226-3356 or [email protected]

Comments
Top USF Health official leaves amid questions of assistant’s special treatment

Top USF Health official leaves amid questions of assistant’s special treatment

TAMPA — A high-ranking University of South Florida Health official has resigned amid internal concerns that he was giving special treatment to his assistant.After an internal investigation, USF System President Judy Genshaft was poised last month to ...
Published: 12/15/17
Hillsborough school district and its teachers are at a bargaining impasse, but still talking

Hillsborough school district and its teachers are at a bargaining impasse, but still talking

TAMPA — A months-long conflict over planned pay raises has moved to a new phase with the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association declaring a bargaining impasse with the public school district.The two sides, which began negotiations in late spring...
Published: 12/15/17
Pinellas schools sheltered thousands during Irma. Here’s what it cost

Pinellas schools sheltered thousands during Irma. Here’s what it cost

Three months later, the Pinellas County school district has totaled up the costs of operating 16 schools as shelters for 25,000 evacuees during Hurricane Irma.The district is asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, for a reimbursemen...
Published: 12/15/17
Love of science is the goal, now that every Pinellas elementary school has a lab

Love of science is the goal, now that every Pinellas elementary school has a lab

SEMINOLE — It was hard for the second-graders at Orange Grove Elementary to resist the urge to rush into the school’s science lab and tinker with the colorful objects neatly arranged on each table.Thursday was just their second time in the lab this y...
Published: 12/15/17
Terrace Community Middle School seeks alumni for celebration

Terrace Community Middle School seeks alumni for celebration

Terrace Community Middle School, an award-winning charter school in Thonotosassa, is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2018, and the staff is trying to locate alumni, former parents, teachers and staff members to attend its Golden Glam Gala from 6:...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Florida lawmakers want stronger college free speech rules amid First Amendment flareups

Florida lawmakers want stronger college free speech rules amid First Amendment flareups

Rising up in defiance to Richard Spencer, hundreds of University of Florida students sounded off in a deafening chant."Go home, Spencer!" they shouted, as the exasperated white nationalist paced the stage, pleading to be heard.Were the students exerc...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Hernando could be next stop for PACE Center for Girls

Hernando could be next stop for PACE Center for Girls

BROOKSVILLE — The new year could bring about new beginnings for at-risk girls in Hernando County.Pending a vote by the School Board next month, PACE Center for Girls, an alternative education program for middle- and high-school students, could open a...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17

Pasco school district, employees reach contract agreement

The raises for Pasco County school district employees aren’t as high as anyone would like, but they’re now part of a signed tentative contract deal reached just before 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.If ratified by the staff and the School Board, the agreements ...
Published: 12/13/17
For Bexley students in Land O’Lakes, math skills go airborne

For Bexley students in Land O’Lakes, math skills go airborne

LAND O’LAKES — At Bexley Elementary School in Land O’Lakes, students are throwing paper airplanes — with the help of a high tech computerized launcher. They’re also bowling — with a little aid from computerized drones. And when they get around to it,...
Published: 12/13/17

Proposal to rollback early learning programs could bring Citrus into Pasco-Hernando coalition

Some Florida lawmakers have not hidden their desire to scale back the statewide number of early learning coalitions that oversee child care and preschool programs, including Voluntary Prekindergarten.The state Office of Early Learning has now issued ...
Published: 12/13/17