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Florida students get reprieve from spring test results

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Florida high school seniors will be allowed to graduate in spring 2021 without meeting their state testing requirements, as long as they have earned sufficient credits and an adequate grade-point average to otherwise qualify.
Florida high school seniors will be allowed to graduate in spring 2021 without meeting their state testing requirements, as long as they have earned sufficient credits and an adequate grade-point average to otherwise qualify. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times (2019) ]
Published Apr. 12
Updated Apr. 12

The big news as Florida school children enter the second week of state testing is that the results shouldn’t hurt them. The state Department of Education issued its long awaited guidelines for how the scores can be applied toward students’ progression, course grades and other academic decisions. In most instances, the state left the final decision up to districts. Teachers voiced concerns that they weren’t shown the same leniency. Read on for that story and more Florida education news.

The emergency order addressed issues such as third-grade promotion, high school graduation and Bright Futures eligibility. It applies to spring 2021 students only. • Citrus County school district leaders said they were examining the order before deciding how to proceed, the Citrus County Chronicle reports. • The order does not fully waive the use of student test scores for teacher evaluations, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

The department meanwhile sent its request for a federal waiver of accountability requirements. Officials stated it appears unlikely 95 percent of students will test, Florida Phoenix reports.

In the schools

Hillsborough County schools followed through on plans to cut hundreds of jobs to save money. Many employees will find new positions in the district. Several have little promise of a soft landing.

A new poll showed less than half of U.S. adults participate in organized religion. The numbers are higher among college-age Americans.

A Martin County elementary school has been plagued with vandalism. The district is looking into buying surveillance cameras to help capture the culprits, WPTV reports.

Moving students

The Lee County school district is dealing with population shifts. District officials are exploring merging some schools while also building new ones, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

Putnam County schools face a major “revitalization” plan, including the closure of several campuses. No teacher layoffs are expected in the initiative, WUFT reports.

Alachua County’s superintendent has proposed redrawing attendance zones to rebalance enrollment. Some School Board members have suggested closing some schools, too, the Gainesville Sun reports.

Diversity matters

“Love wins.” A Brevard County School Board member’s neighborhood, picketed by anti-LGBTQ activists, fights back with a message of its own, Florida Today reports.

Or does it? A Liberty County high school student wore a Confederate flag outfit to school, leaving the few Black students there feeling unsafe, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

Coronavirus concerns

The coronavirus isn’t gone yet. Cases started to rise again in Tampa area schools, after a decline. • Employee case counts declined in Manatee and Sarasota counties, the Herald-Tribune reports.

Can teachers still get protected COVID sick leave? The offer expired for Polk County school employees, putting some of their benefits in limbo, the Ledger reports.

Several Florida schools districts plan to end remote-live classes in the fall. Palm Beach County officials prepared to have a full return to bricks and mortar classes as more people are vaccinated and the pandemic abates, WPTV reports. More from the Palm Beach Post. • Collier County also expects to have only in-person and virtual options, WBBH reports. • Charlotte County schools, too, the Charlotte Sun reports. • Lee County is bracing for growth in its independent virtual program, WINK reports.

Kids can attend from anywhere. Some New York State students have traveled to Florida and elsewhere to take their classes, the NY Times reports. • Online school is here to stay, with Florida Virtual School one of the many options available across the nation, the NY Times reports.

Will masks become optional? Indian River County school district officials plan to revisit that issue, two months after a judge ruled they have authority to require the face coverings, TC Palm reports.

Graduation is coming fast. Miami-Dade County schools joined the growing list of those planning in-person events, WFOR reports.

Today in Tallahassee ... Enjoy a breather. The House canceled all its committee meetings, and the Senate has just one at 3 p.m. focused on gaming.

From the police blotter ... A Hillsborough County school bus driver was arrested on accusations of sexually assaulting a student on the bus.

Before you go ... It’s cute animal time again. Baby otter, anyone?