LWV Press Release: Florida’s Tax Credit Vouchers in Court February 9th

justiceThe Florida League issued a press release today in advance of the scheduled court hearing on Monday, February 9th of McCall et al vs. Scott et al.  The League is a plaintiff in this case against the Florida Tax Credit Scholarships to private, mostly religious schools.

A previous lawsuit against the expansion of the FTC scholarships  was dismissed by Judge Francis.  That suit, Faase vs. Scott, claimed that the procedures used to pass the bill on the  last day of the  session were illegal.  The judge ruled that no significant harm was done by the political maneuvers.  We hope the outcome will be different.

READ ON TO SEE THE PRESS RELEASE.

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SB 616 Filed to Reduce Testing Impact

dmbtestSenate Education Chairman, John Legg, filed SB 616 to limit testing time and reduce the impact of achievement gain scores on teacher evaluations.

There is also a district option for changing how State assessment results are reported for 2014-15.

Will the bill have a meaningful impact on the amount of testing that is required?  Given that districts must still do local testing in courses not covered in statewide assessments, it is not clear how the number of tests will be reduced.

Testing and learning have always been intertwined.  The question at hand is how much testing and for which purposes should tests be used?  The legislators are listening.  Send them your thoughts.

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LWV Hot Topic on Testing

by Marilyn Wills

pat levesqueThis must have been a highly anticipated Hot Topics event in Tallahassee.  On one side was Patricia Levesque,  the Executive Director for his foundation, Foundation for Excellence, founded by Jeb Bush.  On the other side rosanne wood was Rosanne Wood, former principal of one of the nation’s top 6 innovative high schools.  Ms. Levesque touts Florida’s education gains.  Ms. Wood wonders about shifting denominators in statistics and the impact of testing on students and teachers.

 

Why we should test and why we should reconsider how tests are used was the focus of the meeting.  There was some agreement, but the perspectives on testing were very different.  These are the talking points.  We need to know them inside and out.  Read the report from the Leon County League.Continue reading

Achievement Testing Power Points: Orange County LWV

by Terry Gillam, Orange County League of Women Voters

oranges-602271_1280The Orange County League of Women Voters is doing a local study of the State achievement testing issues.  They have prepared power points for presentations at local events.

The presentation is informational and does not represent Florida or National League positions.

 

 

 

 

These slides are chock full of information.  They ask:

  • Why are people so upset about testing:
  • How much is taking place?
  • What are high stakes tests?
  • Who decides about testing?
  • What are the major concerns?
  • What can we do?

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Better to light one candle than to curse the darkness

by Pat Drago and Sue Legg

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This is not an easy walk into the woods, but you need to know where the funding for charter schools comes from and where it goes. It is your money.

There is a lot money to be made and lost with charter schools, and it is public tax dollars. As usual, independent schools tend to lose it, and large charter management chains come out on top.  This is not always to the children’s benefit.  How does this happen? We looked at the audits and found huge disparities in facility and fee expenditures. This meant that instructional parts of the budgets were reduced accordingly.

We wanted to know how these facilities were financed. If State funds were creating opportunities to make real estate venture capitalists wealthy, we wanted to know how this worked. Unfortunately, public dollars that go to private companies are hard to see. The lack of transparency for their financial records provides only vague outlines. We did find some clues by looking at how facilities are financed.

We wondered what other states were doing to ensure that state money was allocated for instruction and not for profit making ventures. We found some answers. As always, different approaches have their share of unintended consequences. As we groped in the darkness, there was a glimmer of light. The brave among you are invited to go down this path with us.

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OPT OUT of Testing Consequences: New Link

letterParents all over the U.S. are considering whether or not to encourage their children not to take the Common Core assessments this spring.  In Florida, education leaders in the legislature asked the Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart to provide the legal consequences of opting out of testing students.  Read her response.

The consequences are not always trivial.

 

 

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Catching Up for Kindergarten

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Last year, political horse trading got in the way of improving regulations for early childhood programs.  Representative O’Toole’s bill, HB 7069, died on the last day of the session.   The 2015 legislative session starts in March.  Senator O’Toole is the new Chair of the House Education Committee.  Things may improve for little children.  Or, we may start pre and posting testing them!   Let’s see take a look at where we are and what may be ahead.

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