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Florida releases state test results. School grades come next, if requested.

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
A Lakewood Elementary School student takes an assessment test Wednesday, April 7, 2020. Lakewood was one of the lowest performing schools in the state of Florida. Now it's one of the schools touted by the state as having avoided the COVID-slide, and is on its way to strong accountability performance.
A Lakewood Elementary School student takes an assessment test Wednesday, April 7, 2020. Lakewood was one of the lowest performing schools in the state of Florida. Now it's one of the schools touted by the state as having avoided the COVID-slide, and is on its way to strong accountability performance. [ JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times ]
Published Jul. 30

Florida officials refused to cancel spring state tests again this year, saying the data would be key to driving instruction as schools work to overcome the effects of quarantines, at-home learning and other pandemic-based decisions. The results came out Thursday. Read on for the latest on that story and more Florida education news.

Student grade-level performance dipped in both reading and math. The outcomes tracked with what’s happening nationally. Experts cautioned not to read too much into the scores. More from Herald-Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, Palm Beach Post.

Other school news

The check’s (not quite) in the mail. Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration has allocated nearly $4 million to contract a firm responsible for sending $1,000 bonus checks featuring the governor’s office logo to teachers, principals and other first responders.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor wants to prevent charter schools that use for-profit managers from receiving federal financial support. She’s basing her proposal on Hillsborough County’s charter school experiences.

The pandemic taught educators quite a bit about using technology in their classes. Some of the practices are likely to carry over into the new school year.

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott continued to speak out against “critical race theory” in schools. He predicted the issue will lead to a change in the makeup of local school boards, Florida Politics reports.

The Citrus County school district needs more psychologists on staff. The administration has proposed a training program designed to attract more people to the positions, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

Gone fishing. A new charter high school in Destin will become the first in Florida to offer a fishing class, the Destin Log reports.

Mask mandates

The Broward County School Board voted to defy Gov. DeSantis’ mask opposition. A spokesperson for his office says Broward will be “addressed,” the Sun-Sentinel reports.

Another Florida school district is requiring masks in the fall. Gadsden County district officials said they want parents to feel safe bringing their children back to campus, WCTV reports.

Which district might be next? The Palm Beach County district’s new superintendent is thinking about it, the Palm Beach Post reports. • Orange County’s School Board chairperson contends a mandate is a good idea, too, WKMG reports. • Alachua County parents are pressuring their school board to reconsider its optional mask stance, the Gainesville Sun reports.

It’s not just K-12 schools. Pensacola State College reinstated its indoor mask mandate as virus cases spiked, the Pensacola News Journal reports.

The politics of masking. A state lawmaker and Brevard County School Board member sparred on social media over mask rules in advance of the board’s discussion on the topic, Florida Today reports. Board members had to be escorted out of their meeting as parents commandeered the session, WFTV reports.

Are masks needed? The Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics says yes, Florida Politics reports.

Vaccines might help, too. Schools aren’t requiring them, but they are recommending shots for those students who are eligible.

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

Before you go ... Fred Heid, Polk County’s new superintendent, took some heat for participating in a community conversation about teaching of race issues in schools. One state lawmaker called on the governor to remove Heid from office (something that couldn’t happen as the superintendent is not an elected official). Check out Heid’s response to the criticisms. Heid plans to hold several community forums to hear about concerns and answer questions, the Ledger reports.

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