Friday, December 15, 2017
Education

School officials critical of Gov. Scott's plan to release school ranking

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Monday will release a ranking of the state's 67 school districts based on standardized test scores, his office confirmed late Friday.

Top school officials in Florida are fuming. They argue that examining test scores alone overlooks factors such as poverty and racial diversity, which have been shown to affect educational outcomes.

Scott's chief of staff says the governor is willing to recalculate the ranking to reflect those factors.

But for now, the plan is to release the ranking at 10 a.m. Monday.

"The governor believes that we ought to be transparent, and the information being released is merely information that is available to the public and already compiled," chief of staff Steve MacNamara said.

The controversy started early Friday, when a St. Johns County School Board member sent out an email saying her district was No. 1, according to a Florida Times-Union report.

A St. Johns school district spokesman told the Times-Union that superintendent Joe Joyner had indeed spoken with the Education Department but would not comment further.

Some districts were left in the dark.

Hillsborough school officials said they hadn't been notified about the ranking.

"We've got no official notice," said Connie Milito, the district's chief government relations officer.

Broward superintendent Robert Runcie said he had not received a call either.

The board of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents held a conference after learning of Scott's plan.

"The board expressed concern — and rightfully so — that this ranking of the school districts is based only on one factor, and that is FCAT performance," chief executive officer Bill Montford said.

Montford, who is also a Democratic state senator from Tallahassee, said he shared those concerns at a meeting with Scott — and that the governor was receptive.

"I believe that the next step will be a comprehensive look at all of the factors that go into student performance," Montford said. "Then we will have a much more complete and accurate snapshot."

MacNamara said the ranking is nothing more than a composite of information that is already in the public domain.

Florida school districts receive an annual letter grade from the state Department of Education based on Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores. Most districts receive an A or a B.

But state Board of Education Vice Chairman Roberto Martinez called ranking the districts based on test scores alone "a horrible idea."

Martinez said it would be unfair to compare diverse, urban districts such as Miami-Dade's and Hillsborough's with smaller districts serving more affluent children.

"The governor has been doing a lot of good things for education," Martinez said. "I don't know why in the world he would want to do a press conference on something that is overly simplistic, unmeritorious and could easily be misused."

Martinez added: "I hope that between now and Monday, someone will dissuade him from having that press conference."

Miami Herald staff writer Laura Figueroa contributed to this report.

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 ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
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...
Updated: 10 hours ago
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...
Updated: 10 hours ago
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
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
Brink Foundation, school district create Town ’N Country STEM hub

Brink Foundation, school district create Town ’N Country STEM hub

TAMPA — Elementary school students programmed an electronic mouse to make its way through a maze.Middle school students directed an electronic vehicle to stop on a dime, then use its arms to locate and lift a tiny cube.When the demonstration was done...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/14/17