education

The chairman of a Senate committee that oversees public education filed legislation Monday aimed at cutting back on testing time in Florida schools, opening a debate about how to limit the scope and importance of state assessments.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

It’s a midweek school night at Miami Beach Senior High School.

Students, their parents and siblings -- roughly 80 people in all -- are waiting in the school’s library to get on a computer and answer a lot of questions.

Miami Beach Senior High college adviser Maria Sahwell and experienced counselors will walk families through filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart says students cannot skip state-required tests, and teachers and schools can be punished for refusing to administer required exams.

Stewart’s letter is a response to questions from senators as they prepare for the upcoming legislative session. Senators wanted to know if students could opt out of state-required exams and how doing so might affect their progress in school.

Anya Kamenetz

Lots of people think there’s too much testing going on in schools right now. It’s one of the most contentious issues in education.

Lawmakers want to scale back the amount of time Florida students spend taking tests.

But at the same time, Florida is rolling out a new test tied to new math and language arts standards -- known as Common Core.

NPR education reporter Anya Kamenetz researched the history and use of standardized exams for her book, “The Test.”

Read an edited version of our interview with Kamenetz below.

Amber Ernst-Leonard / Florida Keys Community College

Florida Keys Community College, the state’s southernmost institution of higher education, has recently formed a new partnership with Mote Marine Laboratory. Mote is headquartered in Sarasota and has six facilities throughout the state, including one on Summerland Key.

Mote scientists will teach courses at the college, and FKCC students will apprentice at the marine lab, giving them real world experience.

Schools are offering more and more healthy foods for lunch. And schools that participate in the National School Lunch program require students to choose a fruit and a vegetable side. Yet plate waste is a big problem in schools; as The Salt has reported, kids throw away anywhere from 24 to 35 percent of what's on their trays.

Miran_Rijavec / Flickr

Lawmakers want Florida students to be smarter about their money.

They’ve introduced a bill to make a financial literacy course a high school graduation requirement.

Students would have to take lessons on taxes, compound interest, insurance, and how to weigh the cost and benefits of decisions.

The bill was introduced by Fort Myers Republican Representative Heather Fitzenhagen and Miami GOP Representative Manny Diaz.

The bill says the Florida Department of Education would choose a non-profit group to create the lessons.

Rick Stone

President Obama's America's College Promise would provide free community college tuition for two years to students who keep their grades up, stay in school and show progress toward graduation.

As he introduced it this month, the president presented it as a logical extension of the nation's free public school system, updated for the education requirements of the modern economy.

John O'Connor / WLRN

At first, the kids in the auditorium at Richmond Heights Middle School weren’t sure a they'd hear a voice above the ear-burning static.

Dade Radio Club of Miami president Miguel Garate kept signaling the space station.  

“NA1SS, NA1SS, this is Richmond Heights. Over,” Garate said repeatedly, trying to hail the space station.

They had just minutes before astronaut Samantha Cristoferretti would be out of range.

A voice cut through the white noise.

“This is November Alpha One, I-S-S. I read you three by five,” Cristoferretti said.

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