Massive Last Minute Education Bill Emerges

A new mega bill HB 7069 for education was released last night–278 pages long.   It combined provisions from other bills.  The funding is dismal; for most districts there will be less money next year.  Local district capital outlay funds do not increase and must be shared with charters which seriously harms districts.

Other provisions impact teacher bonuses and scholarships and expansion of charter schools by taking over schools in low income areas without requiring district oversight.

Testing and accountability have minor changes–Algebra II EOC is no longer required and the testing window is pushed back by allowing paper and pencil test for grades 3-6.  Districts may determine data for teacher evaluations.

Schools of Excellence and Schools of Hope are created.  It seems as though current state regulations now apply only to schools earning a grade of ‘B’ or ‘C’.  The others are granted flexibility.   The logic is flawed there.  The needs for the middle (or most students) are ignored.

For more detail, continue reading.

FUNDING.  Categorical funds for Supplemental Academic Instruction are provided in addition to FEFP .  In addition funds will be allocated to the 300 lowest performing schools based on reading scores.

TEACHER IMPACT.  It appears that this bill is intended to make at least some money to many teachers by revising the current teacher bonus programs for AP and IB success rates and for teachers rated highly effective.

  • Best and Brightest awards of $6,000 for teachers scoring at the  77th percentile on approved exams
  • $1200 scholarships to teachers rated highly effective; effective rating gets $800; Principals receive $4 or $5,000
  • Caps on bonuses for successful AP, IB, and CAPE teachers have been lifted.
  • An alternative route to teacher certification through a mentorship and induction program is authorized by the DOE that includes professional development activities and eliminates the Professional Certification Examinations.

SCHOOLS OF EXCELLENCE are established for schools that earn scores at the 80th percentile in school grade points with no school grade lower than a B in the last three years.  These schools:

  • are exempt from minimum daily or weekly reading requirements.
  • have principal autonomy in personnel.
  • have flexible school start and end times.
  • are exempt from class size.

CURRICULUM:

  • Just Read! services are expanded to include support from the Lastinger Center.  Dyslexia remediation training is provided.  An American Founders Month is designated, and civic literacy is required.
  • Recess required for 100 minutes each week.
  • Committee on Early Grade Success is created to develop standards.
  • A K-2 Music Pilot Program is established.
  • Blended learning is added as an option for the online learning requirement.

CHARTER SCHOOLS.   A provision is added stating that charter schools shall be part of the state’s program of public education.  A high performing charter school system is included in charter enabling language that gives it legal standing as a local education agency like school districts.  In addition:

  • Per student funding goes to the district in which the student is enrolled in a virtual charter, not the student’s home district.
  • Charter school appeal system includes mediation or an administrative law judge and districts pay costs if they lose.
  • Districts must use a standard charter contract and charter replication form.  No local requirements are to be included.
  • Funding changes include change in thee administrative fee by district for charter schools, districts must pay out sick leave for teachers transferring to charters, and digital allocation must be shared with charters.
  • Comparison of charter and traditional public schools is eliminated.
  • High performing charter may replicate in any district.

TESTING AND ACCOUNTABILITY

  • Students transferring to a private school are factored into school grade and high school graduation rate.
  • High school diploma requirement for Algebra II is deleted.
  • Grades 3-6 tests must be paper based.  Test administration is pushed back no earlier than April 1st or May 1st depending upon the test.
  • FSA tests must be published every 3 years.
  • Teacher evaluations are to be based on data and performance determined by the district.
  • There will be an independent analysis of student growth data.
  • AT/ACT equivalence for Algebra I and ELA to be established.
  • The DOE will review subject coverage for teacher certification areas every five years.

SCHOOL TURN AROUND.  D or F schools will have principal autonomy, an intensive turn around plan will be implemented after two consecutive years of D or F grades.  Options are to close the school and open as charter or contract with an outside entity that may be a charter.

  • Schools of Hope are to be identified by the DOE that exceed district and state average student achievement and serve 70% FRL.  They have five year contracts, and may take over unused or under enrolled school facilities.  Enrollment eligibility or dismissal policies are not clearly defined other than schools are exempt from the lottery for admissions.
  • Districts may apply to receive a School of Hope grant for $2,000 per student for wrap around services for up to 25 schools statewide.
  • Title I funding distribution puts priority on schools serving more than 75% FRL students.  Remaining funds are to be distributed according to federal guidelines.

SCHOOL FACILITIES

  • Shared use of school facilities is required.
  • Locally generated capital outlay funds must be shared with charters.

VIRTUAL SCHOOL

  • Annual audit removed. Why??
  • Students must take state assessments.
Posted in Authorization, blended learning, career educatopm, Charter School Management, Charter Schools, Curriculum, Department of Education, Early Childhood Education, Facilities, Florida, Florida House, Florida Senate, Funding, Legislation, Online Education, Public Education, Teachers, Testing, turnaround.

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