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Some Florida schools find bright spots in spring test scores

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Oak Park Elementary School in East Tampa is one of 14 persistently low-performing Hillsborough County schools that officials said showed strong improvement on state tests in 2021.
Oak Park Elementary School in East Tampa is one of 14 persistently low-performing Hillsborough County schools that officials said showed strong improvement on state tests in 2021. [ MARLENE SOKOL | Times staff ]
Published Aug. 4
Updated Aug. 4

Worries loomed that a year of pandemic schooling, with all of its deficiencies, might cause significant learning deficits for students. Florida officials insisted on testing this spring, but yielded to many educators and parents who called for another pause in imposing the most high-stakes uses of the results. As district leaders review the outcomes, though, they’re finding some bright spots. Read on for that story and more Florida education news.

Florida schools aren’t required to take state accountability grades this year. The Hillsborough County school district says several of its previously low-performing schools made enough progress to warrant accepting the marks.

Still, much work remains to overcome lost learning time. Students’ performance on math tests was down across the state, following a nationwide trend, Florida Phoenix reports.

Coronavirus concerns

What’s the education plan for kids kept out of school by COVID-19? School districts are working to ensure they don’t miss out on lessons, despite the end of live-remote instruction. • The Volusia County school district extended its deadline for virtual school registration, as parent concerns mounted over a virus resurgence, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. • The chairperson of the Orange County School Board called for a return to live remote classes, but noted the state is no longer funding the model, WKMG reports.

The Diocese of St. Petersburg had planned a mask mandate for its schools this fall. It called off that step after Gov. Ron DeSantis said parents should have the choice.

Some districts started pushing back on masks. The Duval County School Board approved a requirement with an opt-out form for parents to complete, the Florida Times-Union reports. • The Alachua County School Board imposed a two-week mask mandate to open the academic year, WCJB reports.

Orange County’s top health official urged parents to get their children 12 and older vaccinated before school begins. He also encouraged mask wearing and hand washing, Florida Politics reports.

DeSantis defended his handling of COVID-19 issues. He said others are blowing the numbers out of proportion, the Associated Press reports.

Critics meanwhile continued to argue that the governor overextended his hand. They claim DeSantis has no authority to overrule local control of schools, WTLV reports. • Democratic State Sen. Gary Farmer agreed with that assessment, WFOR reports. Farmer called on the state surgeon general to oppose the governor on masks, Florida Politics reports.

A new poll showed public support for masks in schools. Sixty-two percent of respondents said schools should require face coverings during the pandemic, Florida Politics reports.

The Osceola County school district offered employees 10 additional COVID sick leave days. They must be fully vaccinated and have contracted the illness through work to qualify, WKMG reports.

Other school news

Show them the money. State Sen. Joe Gruters filed legislation to have the Broward County school district pay $25 million to the families of victims in the 2018 Parkland school shooting, Florida Politics reports.

The Volusia County school district faced accusations it excluded students with disabilities from certain programs and services. It reached a settlement over the allegations with the U.S. Department of Justice, the department announced in a news release.

Students with special needs deserve a place to play. The Indian River County school district is adding new accessible playgrounds to four elementary schools, WPTV reports.

An annual equity report shows the Sarasota County school district has made strides in providing advanced courses to students. It still needs to improve in areas such as hiring and Title IX compliance, Your Observer reports.

The Volusia County school district needs bus drivers. Several retired as thousands more bus riders are expected, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

From the court docket ... A Duval County teacher removed from her classroom over her Black Lives Matter display reached a settlement in her lawsuit against the school district, the Florida Times-Union reports.

Don’t miss a story. Yesterday’s roundup is just a click away.

Before you go ... Did you catch Hillsborough High’s Erriyon Knighton blow through his 200 meter heat on the way to the Olympic finals? (He finished fourth, just out of the medals. Great run.)

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