Testing Changes Aired in Senate

Yesterday’s the Senate K12 budget committee aired proposals to reduce testing.  Politico reports the following:

Eliminating required end of course exams in English, U.S. history, civics, algebra and geometry.

Allowing the use of paper and pencil as well as computer based examinations.

Substituting nationally normed tests for state assessments.

Exempting high performing students from state assessments.

Moving test administration to the last three weeks of the school year.

 

 

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Louisiana Court Rules State Charters Unconstitutional

In Florida, charters are generally authorized by local school boards.  In some states, charters are authorized by local districts, universities, state boards or even cities.  This is part of the continuing struggle over control of public schools.  Florida’s legislature has tried to create state charter review boards, but the resistance is strong.

 

 

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Jeb Bush Supports Betsy DeVos

Many of you may know that the nominee for U.S. Secretary Betsy DeVos serves as a board member on Jeb Bush’s pro choice Foundation for Excellence in Education.  Bush has written a letter in support of her nomination.

Bush argues that opposition to school choice is based on two false narratives.  The League has no formal position on this appointment.  So, you decide.  Let your Senators know what you think.

 

 

 

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Turn around schools: Principal Autonomy Pilot Program

Making positive change is by definition, good.  Rep. Manny Diaz believes principals need more autonomy in order to improve schools.  In a pilot program he sponsored, three high performing principals in seven districts would be allowed to choose a nationally recognized turn around program for schools that have received a ‘D’ or an ‘F’ twice in the past two years.  These schools are near but not at the level of Florida’s programs for failing schools.

The turn around model of transforming schools with student low achievement assumes that the school leadership has been unable to create an appropriate school learning environment.   Principals would bring in a three member leadership team and have increased fiscal and management authority.  Staff development, student services and the use of data to inform instruction are typical components.  In some models, rewards for individual teachers based on student learning gains are provided.

Teaching and learning strategies including additional time in school are typical turn around strategies.  Some programs adopt a ‘no nonsense’ student discipline model in which every aspect of children’s behavior is monitored, rewarded and/or punished.

Turn around models.  The approach to school improvement may vary.  The rules governing this latest principal autonomy project for nearly failing schools will be adopted at the State Board of Education meeting in Stuart on January 17th.  Districts must choose one of four national turnaround models that has at least a five year history.

National models typically include the following or a hybrid version of them:

Restarts:  Schools are closed and reopened as charters with new staff and management.  All former students are eligible to attend.

School Closure:  Schools cease to operate and students are transferred to other schools.

Turnaround schools:  Replace leadership and about one half of the teachers.  Extend teacher and student time in class.

Transformation:  New principal and leadership, professional development, financial incentives, additional instructional time

We have a turnaround school here.  I have been looking at the data and have a lot of questions.  If I can find answers, I will share them in a blog post.

School Turnaround: Caught Between the Crosshairs

In a news report on President Obama’s legacy, one commentator stated that is focus on eliminating failing schools would survive.  These are the ‘turn around’ schools where most students do not meet state proficiency levels.  Some say that the goal to have all students be proficient is like assuming all students must be ‘above average’.  Proficiency standards, however, are set at levels most but not all students are expected to reach.  The expectations are an ever increasing target.  As achievement goes up, standards go up.

It is a trap, however, to excuse low performance because students have not been expected or even required to do better.  Is there an escape hatch?

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New ‘Best and Brightest’ Bonus Plan Proposed

According to the Tallahassee News Service of Florida, Governor Scott will support $43 million dollars in 2017 teacher bonuses.  Details of the plan are not yet available, but the Governor said that the plan will target new teachers who show great potential and veteran teachers who show the highest student academic growth among their peers.  The current method of qualifying based on test scores will change.

 

 

 

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New bill to end 3rd grade test based retention

Representative John Cortes D. Osceola has filed  bill 131 to end mandatory third grade retention based on the English Language Arts score on the Florida Assessment.  Districts may retain students if needed, but they must continue to provide intensive remedial instruction.  The provisions remain for promoting retained students mid year if the have improved their reading skills.

Rep. Cortes was elected to the Florida House in 2014.  He does not serve on any legislative education committees, and the bill has yet to gain a Senate sponsor.  Whether or not his bill progresses is worth watching.  Unfortunately, third grade retention helps inflate fourth grade NAEP scores, and illusion is one of the signatures of school choice.

 

 

 

 

Making Good Choices: Equitable Public Schools Do Better

Researchers at Stanford University have published a new study comparing public school vs. school choice privatization systems.  Public schools that focus on equity win hands down.

The data suggest that the education sector is better served by a public investment approach that serves each and every child than by a market-based competition approach that creates winners…..and losers.

It is worth taking a minute to see how and why.

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A Serious Look at Testing or at School Culture?

Rep. David Simmons, the chair of the Florida Senate Appropriations sub committee on Education wants a serious look at way to reduce over testing.  What is over testing?  Is it all the prep testing that goes on prior to the state tests?  On the other hand, is it too many redundant state or national tests e.g. requiring students to sit the FSA and the SAT if they are going to college?  Or, is it requiring students to take a state test like the FSA every year?  There is another way to look at over testing.  Perhaps it is a way to avoid looking for solutions.

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Plan to Revise the Constitution: Take the Public Out of Public Education

Can you imagine that the Florida House and Senate would support the repeal of the Fair Districting amendments, making the redistricting process secret, as well as rescinding constitutional bans on state support for private, religious schools?   The Miami Herald reports that these are the major goals of the legislative leaders. Florida’s constitution would have to be changed, and the process is now in place.  We need to know about this; it is real.

 

 

 

 

 

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