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Florida leans toward requesting a federal testing waiver

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Florida education commissioner Richard Corcoran, shown at an August roundtable discussion, is leaning toward a plan that would detach student test results from the state's most consequential outcomes, such as third-grade retention.
Florida education commissioner Richard Corcoran, shown at an August roundtable discussion, is leaning toward a plan that would detach student test results from the state's most consequential outcomes, such as third-grade retention. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Mar. 17
Updated Mar. 17

Florida education commissioner Richard Corcoran has heard the message from all sides now. Parents, teachers, students and a bipartisan group of lawmakers have made clear their desire to detach this spring’s state tests from the consequences attached to the results, such as third grade promotion and high school graduation. Using the scores for anything other than gauging whether students have fallen behind would be inappropriate, they argue.

To date, Corcoran has signaled his intent to be fair, but he hasn’t gone so far as to say whether he will seek a federal waiver on the accountability requirements, as offered by the Biden Administration. That could be about to change. Department of Education spokeswoman Taryn Fenske told the Gradebook that Corcoran plans to unveil his testing direction to the State Board of Education when it meets today at 9 a.m. in Tallahassee.

“He’s looking favorably toward applying,” Fenske said, adding that the commissioner would seek public input on a waiver proposal before submitting anything.

Also at today’s meeting, Corcoran is prepared to present more details about how schools can use the second round of federal pandemic stimulus funds, which total nearly $3 billion. Chancellor Jacob Oliva sent memos on the subject to superintendents late Tuesday offering some key insights. Among them, he wrote, “Districts should expect that these are the funds that would support any costs related to 2021-22 student counts that are in excess of the enrollment estimates that are used to establish the 2021-22 Florida Education Finance Program.”

He added that districts should use the money for non-recurring needs, as the revenue disappears after September 2023.

Now for the rest of today’s Florida education news.

A revised version of the Senate bill to revamp the Bright Futures scholarship hit its first committee. It passed on a 5-4 party line vote, with several in the majority voicing concerns about the content.

‘Keep public schools money in the public schools.’ A coalition of organizations called for a reduction in state-funded vouchers, WJXT reports.

Today in Tallahassee. The House Secondary Education subcommittee will consider a bill to bar transgender students from participating in certain school sports competitions when it meets at 9:30 a.m. • The House PreK-12 Appropriations subcommittee will review legislation to overhaul literacy programs when it meets at 1 p.m. • The House Education and Employment Committee will debate two bills on civic education when it meets at 3:45 p.m. • The Senate Education Appropriations subcommittee will take up a measure on civic education when it meets at 3 p.m.

Coronavirus concerns

The pandemic highlighted divisions at some Florida schools. At Morningside K-8 Academy in Miami, parents in the PTSA found they had quite different priorities, WLRN reports.

Graduations are approaching. The St. Johns County school district announced locations for in-person ceremonies, the St. Augustine Record reports.

Enrollment declines are causing concerns for districts. Broward County superintendent Robert Runcie is calling for extra funding from the state, WPLG reports.

Other school news

Renaming schools might make perfect sense. But it doesn’t come cheap, the Florida Times-Union reports. More from WTLV.

The Leon County school district’s website was hacked with racist and homophobic remarks. Blame a compromised administrative password, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

The Collier County school district is getting a new deputy superintendent. Superintendent Kamela Patton recruited her choice from Miami-Dade County schools, where she once worked, the Naples Daily News reports.

He’s outta here. Bethune-Cookman University president E. LaBrent Chrite abruptly resigned his post without explanation, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. He issued a statement without informing trustees first.

Don’t miss a story. Here’s a link to yesterday’s roundup.

Before you go ... It’s still Women’s History Month. Learn about Florida Women’s Hall of Fame inductee Alice Scott Abbott.