education

Florida Department of Education / Flickr

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart has recommended eliminating a high school exam, making another optional and asking state lawmakers and local school districts to cut back on the amount of testing.

Stewart's recommendations are the conclusion of a statewide review of standardized testing requested by Gov. Rick Scott.

"There is, without a doubt, an excess of testing in Florida schools," Stewart said in a statement, saying she'll work with Scott, lawmakers and school districts to "strike the appropriate balance between accountability and instruction."

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

At dinner tables across Florida, parents and their elementary school children are trying to solve a math problem: What’s going on with my kid’s homework?

Florida is one of dozens of states that has switched to new math standards based on Common Core. The standards outline what students should know in every grade.

Experts say it means big changes to how math is taught. More focus on understanding concepts and solving problems multiple ways. Less memorization of formulas and grinding out worksheets full of similar problems.

StephenMitchell / Flickr

A proposal to limit students to 45 hours of testing a year is unlikely to reduce the amount of time spent on exams, according to a survey of Florida's largest school districts.

Districts say they don't currently track the time individual students spend on testing.

Calculating the number is complicated. The amount of testing varies by a student's grade, the classes he or she is taking and other factors, such as whether the student is learning English or receives extra time to accommodate a disability.

Miami Herald

Former Gov. Jeb Bush defended his record on education at a Tallahassee education summit Tuesday, taking on testing, unions and school choice.

But Bush didn't mention Common Core -- the politically caustic multi-state math and language arts standards for which he has been a chief cheerleader. Bush is a possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate, and many conservatives worry the standards will mean a loss of local control over what's taught in schools.

mcd.edu

Performance funding in public higher education is a way for states to hold institutions accountable for certain outcomes. But new research shows it doesn’t do much to keep students enrolled or boost graduation rates.

Rocketship Education

Florida charter schools that consistently earn good grades on the state’s public school report card get special privileges.

Soon, out-of-state charter schools could, too.

Miami-Dade Superintendent: Get Your Shots (Even Flu)

Feb 4, 2015
John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Miami-Dade County school leaders say they are concerned about a measles outbreak spreading across the country, and they urge parents to vaccinate their children.

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho says vaccinations work, and the district is tracking whether students get their required shots. Carvalho says 98 percent of Miami-Dade students have been vaccinated or are getting the shots now.

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.

Study: Florida Schools Should End Corporal Punishment

Jan 26, 2015
Sarah Gonzalez / StateImpact Florida
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.

State Lawmakers Want To Add Financial Education

Jan 16, 2015
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.

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