9:26 am
Mon April 7, 2014

Florida Watches New York Parents Organize Against Common Core Tests

Parents at a Brooklyn school opt out of state tests earlier this week.

Originally published on Mon April 7, 2014 6:02 am


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5:16 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

Accounts For Disabled Students Could Lead To Clash Between House And Senate

Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland)

Originally published on Wed April 2, 2014 5:48 pm

School choice opponents are lining up against a proposal giving students with disabilities additional funding. They say while the intent of the bill is noble, they fear it will lead to even greater segregation within Florida’s education system.

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6:05 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

'Undocumented' Immigrant Tuition Bill Passes Key Senate Committee

Allowing illegal - or undocumented - immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates cleared what was expected to be a major hurdle in the Senate, with the Judiciary Committee giving overwhelming approval Tuesday to the election-year proposal that has divided Republicans.

After impassioned pleas on both sides of the issue, the committee signed off on the proposal (SB 1400), a top priority of House Speaker Will Weatherford, in a 7-2 vote.

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12:46 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

USF Art Professor Theo Wujcik dies at 78

Lead in text: 
The cause was cancer, which had spread from Wujcik’s abdomen to his lungs and brain since last fall, said Stanton Storer, a friend and collector of Wujcik’s artwork. Characteristically, despite limitations imposed by surgery and chemotherapy, Wujcik filled the final months of his life with artistic productivity, completing a series of large-scale portraits of other artists for an exhibition in Dallas with the assistance of two former students, artists Peg Trezevant and Kirk Ke Wang. At a reception for the exhibition earlier this month, artists James Rosenquist and Ed Ruscha — Wujcik’s longtime friends and subjects of two of the portraits — joined Margaret Miller, director of the USF Contemporary Art Museum, in a conversation about Wujcik, who participated via Skype from a Tampa hospital.
Theo Wujcik, an artist revered for his prolific art-making, his collaborations with other artists as a master printer, and his teaching as an art professor at the University of South Florida over 33 years, died on Saturday evening in Tampa at the age of 78.
11:27 am
Mon March 31, 2014

Why Computer-Scored Essays Could Eliminate The Need For Writing Tests

A classroom chart explaining the differences between claims, claim evidence and commentary. Hillsborough County schools are teaching the Three Cs as the building blocks of student writing.
Credit John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Florida’s plans to add computerized grading of its new statewide writing test could eventually eliminate the need for a writing test, advocates for the technology said.

Essays on Florida’s new writing test will be scored by a human and a computer, but the computer score will only matter if the score is significantly different from that of the human reviewer. If that happens, bid documents indicate the essay will be scored by another human reviewer.

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5:55 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

Florida House To Vote On School Voucher Expansion

Alyson Hochstedler testifies before the House Education Appropriations Subcommittee about her son's bullying.

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 1:34 pm

A bill significantly expanding Florida’s school voucher program is headed for the House floor, even though a similar proposal was withdrawn from the Senate, leading many to believe the issue was dead for this session. A Friday committee hearing revived a familiar—and heated—debate on education and religion.  

Republican supporters want to increase funding to the state’s corporate tax scholarship program, they say, for parents who feel public school has failed their children—parents like Tallahassee mother of five Alyson Hochstedler.

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10:24 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Fl. House Votes to Allow Secret University Meetings

Not so much in the sunshine

State university foundations could meet in secret under a bill passed by the Florida House.

The bill (HB 115) barely passed since it takes a two-thirds vote to create exemptions to the state's public records and open meetings laws. The vote was 83-33 with most Democrats voting no.

People who give money to university foundations can already keep their identities anonymous. But the bill passed by the House would allow foundation boards to meet in secret if they are discussing research proposals and funding for that research.

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10:17 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Ex-FAMU Band Member Facing Jail in Hazing Death

Jessie Baskin

A former Florida A&M band member could become the first to be sentenced to jail time for his role in the hazing death of a drum major.

Jessie Baskin faces nine years when sentenced Friday for participating in the beating death of Robert Champion in November 2011 during a hazing ritual aboard a bus parked outside an Orlando hotel.

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StateImpact Florida
10:52 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Mining Student Data To Keep Kids From Dropping Out

Miami Carol City Senior High sophomore Mack Godbee reviews his grades with his mentor, Natasha Santana-Viera.
Credit Sammy Mack / StateImpact Florida

It’s report card day at Miami Carol City Senior High, and sophomore Mack Godbee is reviewing his grades with his mentor, Natasha Santana-Viera.

The first quarter on Godbee’s report card is littered with Ds and Fs. This quarter, there are more Cs and Bs. He’s got an A in English.

“Congratulations on that,” says Santana-Viera. “When you need help, do you know where to go?”

“Straight to y’all,” says Godbee.

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StateImpact Florida
2:29 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

New Florida Writing Test Will Use Computers To Grade Student Essays

Florida writing tests will be graded by a human and a computer program, according to bid documents for the new test. And just 2 percent of students will take a pencil and paper exam in 2015.
Credit jeffrey james pacres / Flickr

A computer program will grade student essays on the writing portion of the standardized test set to replace the FCAT, according to bid documents released by the Florida Department of Education.

The essays will be scored by a human and a computer, but the computer score will only matter if the score is significantly different from that of the human reviewer. If that happens, the documents indicate the essay will be scored by another human reviewer.

Florida writing tests are currently graded by two human scorers and the state has never used computerized grading on the exam.

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5:58 am
Fri March 21, 2014

'Undocumented' Immigrant Tuition Bill Squeaks Through House

The House overwhelmingly approved a measure extending in-state tuition rates to some undocumented students Thursday, sending the charged legislation to the Senate, where it faces a less certain fate.

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StateImpact Florida
10:46 am
Mon March 17, 2014

Explaining The Push For 'Pay It Forward' Tuition Plans

A Florida lawmaker has introduced a bill which would make college tuition free, but students would repay the cost over time.
Credit thisisbossi / Flickr

A Florida lawmaker has proposed allowing students to attend college tuition-free, and then repay the cost with a percentage of their salary after graduating.

The proposal has been nicknamed "Pay It Forward" tuition because students making their payments keep tuition free for future generations of college students. Students might pay their Alma mater between 2 percent and 6 percent of their annual salary for as long as 25 years, depending on the terms of the program.

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StateImpact Florida
12:02 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Florida Matters: Choosing The Next FCAT

A new test will soon replace most of the FCAT.
Credit biologycorner / Flickr

Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart is expected to recommend a test to (mostly) replace the FCAT later this month.

A new test is needed because Florida is finishing the switch to new K-12 math, language arts and literacy standards this fall. The standards are largely based on Common Core standards fully adopted by 44 other states and the District of Columbia.

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StateImpact Florida
1:40 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

What A Florida Middle School Has Learned So Far Teaching Common Core Standards

Monroe Middle School teacher Dawn Norris talks to her students about how to write an essay about fairy tales. Norris has been teaching based on the Common Core standards for two years. Since making the switch, she says her students have taken more control of the lessons.
Credit John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

This story is part of a series from The Hechinger Report and StateImpact Florida looking at how Florida schools are getting ready for Common Core standards. Read — and listen to — the first story here.

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4:37 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Legislature Poised For Major Expansion Of Corporate Scholarship Program

Originally published on Thu March 6, 2014 5:38 pm

listen here

More students could get scholarships to go to private school next year under a planned expansion of the state’s corporate tax scholarship program. But those students may also be subjected to state exams.

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