Sources of Information: Florida Standards Assessment

by Terry Gillam

Are there too many tests?  Many leagues are gathering information. In this post, Terry Gillam from Orange County, Florida shares sources they have gathered about new Florida Standards Assessments.  These are the Florida version of the Common Core assessments.  Florida opted out of the national PARCC tests.  Continue reading

Is More Truly Better?

After 15 years of school choice, have we learned how to help disadvantaged children?  The achievement gap remains. A year of school produces a year’s worth of learning.  Children who lack kindergarten readiness skills must somehow learn faster just to catch up. Yes, access to high quality preschool programs is needed, but for children already in school, is more school better? Continue reading

Alternative Assessments for Students with Disabilities Abolished

In June, 2014 the U.S.DOE increased reporting requirements for students with disabilities programs.  Both program procedures, such as meeting evaluation timelines as well as student outcome data are now required for federal funding. The U.S.DOE estimates that only 18 states and territories will meet the new standards; 41 states and territories met previous standards. California, Texas and Delaware are in the lowest compliance level.

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There is more to this to this story.   Read on.

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As Florida Charters Grow, Critics Watch

Some charters do fill an unmet need in this Tampa Bay Times article, but privatizing can also lead to profiteering. The League’s concerns about Charter Schools USA are highlighted in this front page story. The rents charged at some schools exceed $1 million dollars a year. Charter boards are not independent. Many charters offer nothing different, but diverting money from regular public schools creates problems from facility maintenance to busing and instructional support.

Florida to be epicenter for School Choice Week

School Choice Week will launch in January.  Jacksonville, the home area of the chair of Florida’s Board of Education will launch the week with a nationally televised rally of students, educators and school choice supporters.  This  ‘celebration of choice’ will include all forms of choice from public to private including online and home schools.  The strategy of inclusion does not mask the serious legal and regulatory issues rampant in school choice programs. 

The League supports public schools and opposes sending tax dollars directly or indirectly to private schools.  For-profit charter management companies are under federal investigation.  Florida needs to lead the nation in well managed choice within the public school system. 

Coming Soon: LWV Miami-Dade Charter Study

The Miami-Dade League of Women Voters has just completed a study of kindergarten readiness scores for public schools and charters located in the same neighborhoods. They discovered that 62% of the charters serve low-income children, but those charters enroll students with higher readiness scores for kindergarten than the public school nearby.  If charters get higher assessment scores, could it be that they are “cherry picking” students?

See the chart, you decide.

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Rote Learning Meets Critical Thinking

by Sue Legg

One of the most intriguing articles that I have read lately is Iris Rotberg’s article on The Endless Search for Silver Bullets. Dr. Rotberg, a Research Professor of Education Policy at George Washington University reported the results of the 2012 New York state assessments and the 2013 New York version of the Common Core test.  The results were no doubt disappointing to charter school advocates.  Charter schools in New York City, the hallmark of high achieving charter schools, continued to outperform comparable traditional public schools.  Charters, however, had higher drops in levels of proficiency. Continue reading