Education

Widespread Problems Reported as School Tests Begin

Mar 2, 2015
Ann Douglas / Flickr

Students across Florida reportedly had problems Monday logging on to the state's new online-testing platform, raising questions about the testing system as lawmakers consider an overhaul.

Education groups and media reports said students had problems taking the new Florida Standards Assessments in a variety of districts, including populous counties like Hillsborough, Miami-Dade and Orange. Some schools or districts had decided to suspend testing.

Extra Ketchup / Flickr

At Miami’s iPrep Academy, getting ready for the state’s new standardized test includes rapping.

Two students are recording the daily announcements, telling classmates when and where they need to be starting today.

“Monday is ninth graders, with last name A to G,” one student raps, in a rhyme that’s no threat to Miami’s Rick Ross.

“On Tuesday, it’s ninth graders with last name H through Z,” his partner continues.

“All testing is in room 2 – 0 – 4!” they conclude together, Beastie Boys-style.

Daylina Miller / WUSF News

On Wednesday, Eric Webb-Fiske canceled two classes to participate in National Adjunct Walkout Day.

Webb-Fiske, an adjunct instructor at Hillsborough Community College and a graduate assistant at USF, stood in front of USF's Marshall Student Center, trying to get students to sign a petition that calls for better pay and more security for adjunct faculty. 

Gov. Scott Issues Order to Shelve Test

Feb 25, 2015

Days before testing was scheduled to begin, Gov. Rick Scott issued an executive order Tuesday suspending the administration of an 11th-grade language arts test that Education Commissioner Pam Stewart has asked the Legislature to eliminate.

The move was expected; Stewart had recommended last week that Scott suspend the exam so that lawmakers can consider legislation to permanently scrap it. Critics of the test say it's redundant because students' graduation requirements in language arts are fulfilled by an assessment given in the 10th grade.

AcademyPrep.org

Everyone wants to improve the quality of education in America.

But there are no silver bullets to accomplish that.

Parental involvement, a more challenging curriculum and a longer school year are just some of the ideas regularly suggested for low graduation rates.

But in Midtown St. Petersburg, in one of the poorest and most educationally challenged areas of Pinellas County, a small, little known middle school is getting results that are raising some eyebrows.

Governor Rick Scott has issued an executive order suspending at least one of the state-mandated exams students have to take, and that’s just the start of Florida’s efforts to dial back its testing requirements amid public discontent.

At dinner tables across Florida, parents and their elementary school children are trying to solve a math problem: What’s going on with my kid’s homework?

Florida is one of dozens of states that has switched to new math standards based on Common Core. The standards outline what students should know in every grade.

Experts say it means big changes to how math is taught. More focus on understanding concepts and solving problems multiple ways. Less memorization of formulas and grinding out worksheets full of similar problems.

A Tallahassee Judge is weighing whether to allow a constitutional challenge to the state’s tax credit scholarship program to proceed. Since its inception, the program has been a target for legislative challenges, but the current pending litigation has generated larger, more expansive efforts by supporters to get the lawsuit tossed.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush, who waged a running battle with Florida's teacher unions during his eight years in office, used a return visit to the state capital to defend education changes he put in place that have come under fire as he mulls a run for president.

Jeb Bush, considered a front-runner in the crowded field of Republican presidential prospects, speaks at a fund-raising luncheon in Tallahassee on TuesdayCredit Reuters/Bill CotterellEdit | Remove

State Asks Judge to Throw Out Tax Credit Scholarship Lawsuit

Feb 9, 2015
Wikimedia Commons

Lawyers for the state and parents whose children use Florida's de facto school-voucher program argued Monday that groups including the state's largest teachers union don't have the right to challenge the program in court.

Performance funding in public higher education is a way for states to hold institutions accountable for certain outcomes. But new research shows it doesn’t do much to keep students enrolled or boost graduation rates.

Advocates Say State Should Spend More on Children in Surplus Year

Feb 8, 2015

Children's advocates say they're "cautiously optimistic" about Gov. Rick Scott's budget recommendations for the coming spending year, which contain relatively few cuts to programs that serve Florida's children.

But they're also wondering why --- with a surplus of more than $1 billion --- Scott hasn't suggested a greater investment in children, one that they say would be more commensurate with his request for $673 million in tax cuts and record spending on K-12 education and Everglades restoration.

Bill Would Limit Testing Time in Fl Schools

Feb 3, 2015
www.jenksps.org

The chairman of a Senate committee that oversees public education filed legislation Monday aimed at cutting back on testing time in Florida schools, opening a debate about how to limit the scope and importance of state assessments.

It’s a midweek school night at Miami Beach Senior High School.

Students, their parents and siblings -- roughly 80 people in all -- are waiting in the school’s library to get on a computer and answer a lot of questions.

Miami Beach Senior High college adviser Maria Sahwell and experienced counselors will walk families through filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart says students cannot skip state-required tests, and teachers and schools can be punished for refusing to administer required exams.

Stewart’s letter is a response to questions from senators as they prepare for the upcoming legislative session. Senators wanted to know if students could opt out of state-required exams and how doing so might affect their progress in school.

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