Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Education

Florida says it will review standardized testing in schools

Florida education Commissioner Pam Stewart announced Monday that her department would conduct an examination of standardized testing in public schools, following months of criticism from school boards, teachers and parents across the state.

In a statement, the Department of Education said Stewart will "work closely with districts to gather complete and accurate information on the tests being administered to meet federal, state and local requirements."

The department will analyze the data and produce "information about the number of standardized tests and how each of the test results are used by the state, school boards and teachers," the statement said.

Stewart's office said districts have a Jan. 23 deadline to return information to the state, and the review would be completed "as soon as possible" after that.

Pressure has been building steadily this year for the state to address testing as Florida pivots to new education standards and a new standardized test to replace the FCAT. Many have said the transition is moving too fast and expressed fear that Florida's heavy reliance on test results for education accountability will hurt students and schools.

In August, the Lee County School Board created a stir by voting to opt out of testing altogether, only to reverse that decision and craft a resolution instead. Several other school systems voiced concern, as well, including Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Polk and Duval counties.

Pinellas County, initially reluctant to join in, voted earlier this month to adopt a resolution urging the state to slow down as it changes to a new accountability system. Pasco School Board members entered the fray last week, deciding to make their displeasure known in a letter to state officials.

The reaction has turned Florida into ground zero for anti-testing sentiment this year. A group supporting families who want to opt out of standardized testing in schools is holding its second annual conference next month in Fort Lauderdale.

The three-day session for United Opt Out National will include seminars on such issues as organizing and using social media to raise awareness.

Stewart's announcement comes four months after Gov. Rick Scott pledged a "thorough investigation of all standardized tests" as he was campaigning for re-election.

Separately on Monday, Stewart announced she is setting up a new group, the Keep Florida Learning Committee.

The 11-member panel will "review further deregulation opportunities for the school system" and look at how school boards select instructional materials, such as textbooks, the Department of Education said. The group also will look for ways to get parents more involved in schools and review the state's implementation of new standards and its new test, the Florida Standards Assessment.

The department put out a call for volunteers to serve on the committee. The deadline for applying is Jan. 31, and the group will start meeting in March.

Comments
State to keep close watch on five ‘turnaround’ schools in Hillsborough, Pinellas

State to keep close watch on five ‘turnaround’ schools in Hillsborough, Pinellas

State education officials on Wednesday approved plans in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties to improve struggling schools — but with some conditions.The Pinellas district will have to keep a close watch on Fairmount Park Elementary principal Kristy M...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Pinellas School Board: First of three big candidate forums on Tuesday

Pinellas School Board: First of three big candidate forums on Tuesday

Candidates for the Pinellas County School Board will appear Tuesday at the first of three forums sponsored by the Pinellas Education Foundation, St. Petersburg College, the Pinellas County Council PTA and the League of Women Voters. The event will be...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Hernando County teachers union endorses candidates for School Board

Hernando County teachers union endorses candidates for School Board

The Hernando Classroom Teachers Association, the union for the county’s instructional staff, has announced its recommendations for School Board candidates ahead of next month’s election.The group made its decisions via a private forum, where about fi...
Published: 07/18/18
Fired Hernando school superintendent Lori Romano finds a job in the county next door — Pasco

Fired Hernando school superintendent Lori Romano finds a job in the county next door — Pasco

Lori Romano, fired from the Hernando County superintendent post for "ineffective leadership" a month ago, has snagged a job in the neighboring Pasco County school district.She won’t be nearly as high up the administrative ladder in her new role.Subje...
Published: 07/17/18
Artist, advocate, Marine: New Pasco school security director compelled to serve

Artist, advocate, Marine: New Pasco school security director compelled to serve

LAND O’ LAKES — Chris Stowe has a storied past as an explosives technician in the U.S. Marine Corps.The retired master gunnery sergeant has mementos of his service — a field knife mounted to the lid of an explosives box, for instance — hanging promin...
Published: 07/17/18
Members new and old appointed to Pasco-Hernando State College boards

Members new and old appointed to Pasco-Hernando State College boards

Three trustees for Pasco-Hernando State College have been reappointed to their posts by Gov. Rick Scott, and a new member joined the college’s Foundation Board of Directors.The reappointments to the Board of Trustees are Alvaro Hernandez, Lee Maggard...
Published: 07/17/18
Hillsborough training school resource officers during active shooter exercise

Hillsborough training school resource officers during active shooter exercise

DOVER — With the start of classes nearly three weeks away, Hillsborough County school resource officers are receiving extensive active shooter training Tuesday morning to prepare them in the event of another school tragedy.Members of the Hillsborough...
Published: 07/17/18
Teacher on a plane talked about her low-income students. Passengers overheard and gave her more than $500 in cash.

Teacher on a plane talked about her low-income students. Passengers overheard and gave her more than $500 in cash.

Chicago schoolteacher Kimberly Bermudez has always been the chatty type.So when she was on a Southwest Airlines flight to Florida to visit her parents last week, and her seatmate asked her what she did for a living, she told him about her first-grade...
Published: 07/17/18
In District 6, School Board candidates offer ideas on teacher pay, achievement gap and more

In District 6, School Board candidates offer ideas on teacher pay, achievement gap and more

In Pinellas County’s only School Board race without an incumbent, three longtime Pinellas residents — a retired City Council member and coach, a human resources manager and a special education teacher — will duke it out for the District 6 seat. All t...
Published: 07/17/18

New student address verification rules on tap for Pasco schools

Pasco County parents have demanded for more than two years that their school district make sure students are not lying about their addresses. They’ve done so in hopes it might alleviate the need to change attendance zones at crowded schools.They migh...
Published: 07/17/18