Community Priorities Policy Research

The following categories have been clearly identified as most important when discussing our children and their public schools. We based the categories on information gleaned from talking to the community at events, through surveys and in social media. Click on the issues within each category to view the policy research provided. The categories are not currently ranked in a particular order.

Pathways to Student Success and Graduation

According to the 2017 Building a GradNation report, the national 2016-17 Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate (ACGR), a common formula for collecting graduation rate statistics across states and provides data on individual student subgroups down to the school and district levels, is now 85 percent. This represents an increase in nearly every state, the highest level achieved since 1974 and a more than 5 percent increase since 2010. This statistic reflects the number of students that enter high school as freshmen and graduate within 4 years.

Florida’s ACGR lags behind the national average at 82 percent.

In Florida, as with the nation, there are disparities between children who identify with different racial and ethnic groups.  Students of Asian/Pacific Island descent have the highest AFGR (93.2 percent), followed by white students (86.2 percent), Hispanic students (81.3 percent), American Indian/Alaska Native students (80 percent), and black/African American students (74.8 percent).

The lack of high school graduation can have a lasting impact. On average, high school graduates earn $8,000 more each year than peers without a high school diploma and $26,500 less than peers with a college diploma. Students from low income families are six times as likely to drop out as their peers from upper income families, creating a cycle of generational financial struggle.

 

Sources:

Atwell, Matthew, Robert Balfanz, John M. Bridgeland, Jennifer L. DePaoli. (April 2018). “Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Raising High School Graduation Rates.” GradNation. Retrieved January 2019. http://gradnation.americaspromise.org/2018-building-grad-nation-report

“Economic Impacts.” Alliance for Excellent Education. (September 2017). Retrieved October 19, 2017. https://all4ed.org/issues/economic-impacts/

 

“Public High School Graduation Rates.” National Center for Education Statistics. https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_coi.asp. and https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=805 Retrieved January 28, 2019.

For the first time ever, more than half of the K-12 public school student population consists of students of color.

Although the overall rate of student achievement has been rising, an educational achievement gap exists between students of differing racial and ethnic groups and those of different socioeconomic groups. This achievement gap is influenced by many factors, including lack of access to early childhood education programs, family financial instability contributing to high mobility rates, societal influences like discriminatory practices and policies, as well as institutional influences, such as low-expectations in the classroom and the tracking of students into low-level coursework.

The strategic plan for Florida Department of Education acknowledges the gap, and notes that by 2020, they hope to close the gap between white students and other subgroups by only one third.

 

Sources:

Waldman, Carol. (May 2016).“Zeroing in on Achievement: New Data Provides Insight into Racial and Socioeconomic Achievement Gaps in U.S. Schools” Alliance for Excellent Education. Retrieved October 12, 2017. https://all4ed.org/articles/zeroing-in-on-achievement-new-data-provides-insight-into-racial-and-socioeconomic-achievement-gaps-in-u-s-schools/

 

“Florida’s State Board of Education Strategic Plan 2018.” (2018). Florida Department of Education. Retrieved January 2019. < http://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/7734/urlt/Framework.pdf>

Research shows that the use of suspensions for school discipline has steadily climbed since the 1970s.  A majority of suspensions are for minor and nonviolent incidents of misbehavior. Students regularly losing instruction time for any reason, including suspensions, are less likely to encounter academic success and are more likely to drop out of school.

Furthermore, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) data indicates that students of color are disproportionately disciplined and more likely to be suspended. For example, black students without disabilities represented 35 percent of students suspended once, 44 percent of those suspended more than once, and 36 percent of students expelled – but make up only 15 percent of total students in the OCR’s Civil Rights Data Collection. Over 50 percent of students involved in school-related arrests or referred to law enforcement are black or Latino.

In December 2018, the Federal Commission on School Safety chaired by Secretary DeVos released a report on school safety that recommends rescinding Federal School Discipline Guidance issued by the Obama Administration. The report makes additional recommendations that would increase the level of discrimination, school pushout and criminalization experienced by children of color.

Many alternatives to traditional suspensions exist, including restorative justice programs that allow students involved in a conflict to respectfully discuss the impact, obligations, and actions needed to repair harm and make things as right as possible. In 2014, the U.S. Department of Education described restorative justice as a best practice to increase student success in schools by providing a way for schools to help students learn from their behavior and mistakes.

Civil citation is a program for youth offenders who meet certain criteria and provides an alternative to arrest. The program allows them to receive intervention services, make restitution and avoid an arrest record. Youth outcomes improve, recidivism rates dramatically decrease, and taxpayers save millions of dollars. Florida counties are currently using this program at varying rates but there have been efforts in the legislature to require its use.

Sources:

Lahmon, Catherine. “Ensuring Discipline that is Fair and Effective.” Home Room: The Official Blog of the U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved January 19, 2016. <http://blog.ed.gov/2014/01/ensuring-discipline-that-is-fair-and-effective/>

“Fair and Effective Discipline for All Students: Best Practice Strategies for Educators.” National Association of School Psychologists. Retrieved January 2019. http://www.naspcenter.org/factsheets/effdiscip_fs.html

“Guiding Principles: A Resource Guide for Improving School Climate and Discipline.” (Jan 2014) U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved October 24, 2017.

“What’s Happening in Florida?” (2014-2015). Florida Restorative Justice. Retrieved January 19, 2018. <http://www.floridarestorativejustice.com/>

“Diplomas Now.” (January 2013). Attendance Works. Retrieved January, 2018. <http://www.attendanceworks.org/what-works/multi-site-programs/diplomas-now/>

“Civil Citation Dashboard”. Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. Retrieved December 2018. http://www.djj.state.fl.us/research/reports/reports-and-data/interactive-data-reports/civil-citation-dashboard/cc-dashboard

“Federal Guidance Rapid Response Toolkit”, Advancement Project. Retrieved Januay 2019. https://advancementproject.org/resources/federal-guidance-rapid-response-toolkit/

Currently, every Florida pathway to graduation requires a student to perform at a level termed “college ready” on a standardized test. The state also requires students to pass a number of end-of-course exams to earn a diploma. These policies have led to the proliferation of testing in our public schools. Many states have begun to move away from the “one day, one test” mentality to allow for multiple pathways through which a student can earn a diploma.

Like Florida, Maryland offers alternative assessments that can be used as concordant scores for the required state exam. However, they also offer the “Bridge Plan”, an educational project designed to be a remedial tool, which satisfies the testing graduation requirement.

California has a list of alternative measures that can be substituted for either a standardized test score or a state mandated end of course exam. This list includes: practical demonstrations of skills and competencies, supervised work or outside school experiences, career and technical education classes, interdisciplinary study, independent study and credit earned at a postsecondary institution.

Since 2008, lawmakers have promoted efforts to make students “college and career ready”. Many districts have added career academies and increased career and technical course offerings. These programs that provide rigorous instruction and result in industry certifications could be an alternative pathway to a diploma for many students. Some legislators are exploring measures that could add this as a graduation option in Florida.

 

Sources:

“Graduation Requirements.” (July 2018). Florida Department of Education. Retrieved October 24, 2017. <http://www.fldoe.org/academics/graduation-requirements/ >

“State Minimum Course Requirements.” (June 2017). California Department of Education. Retrieved January 2019. <https://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/gs/hs/hsgrmin.asp >

“Maryland Graduation Requirements.” (August 2017). Maryland Department of Education. Retrieved January 2019. http://mdk12.msde.maryland.gov/share/pdf/bridge_final.pdf

Solochek, Jeff. (November 2017) “With a focus on careers and ‘sneaky academics,’ technical high schools are on the rise.” Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved November 2017.  http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/With-a-focus-on-careers-and-sneaky-academics-technical-high-schools-are-on-the-rise_162182979

Anecdotally, many students express frustration with a lack of a plan after graduation. Research backs them up and suggests that post-secondary planning is important for students to understand and discuss as it prepares them for life after they finish high school and teaches them goal setting skills. School guidance counselors are uniquely trained to understand adolescent development, assist students with social skills and facilitate student exploration of interests for post-high school success.

The American School Counselor Association recommends a student-to-student counselor ratio of 250:1. According to the most recent data, the national average is 491:1. Hillsborough County recently reported a ratio of 1 counselor per every 453 students.

Other states are leading the way on this important issue. Colorado started a grant program which provided $16 million to 59 schools between 2010 and 2015 to add 220 school counselors, cutting the student-to-counselor ratio down to 216:1. In three years, dropout rates declined from 5.5 percent to 3.5 percent, saving the state hundreds of millions of dollars. Tennessee and New York launched programs to recruit and train additional counselors.

 

Sources:

Florida Department of Education College and Career Planning website http://www.fldoe.org/academics/college-career-planning/k-12-schools/career-resources.stml

Hilling, Eleanor, “The Importance of Career Counseling and Post Secondary Readiness for High School Students” (2017). Counselor Education Capstone. 37. http://digitalcommons.brockport.edu/edc_capstone/37

The Essential Roles of High School Guidance Counselors” (2017) American School Counselor Association. https://www.schoolcounselor.org/asca/media/asca/Careers-Roles/WhyHighSchool.pdf

 

Murphy, James S., “The Undervaluing of School Counselors” (2016) The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/09/the-neglected-link-in-the-high-school-to-college-pipeline/500213/

Teachers and Teaching

Traditionally, leadership opportunities available to teachers have been limited to working with administrators as representatives of their peers. These opportunities have been in addition to full teaching duties, have lacked flexibility and performed without additional compensation. For these reasons, “teacher leadership” has become a pathway to leave the classroom and enter administration.

In contrast, studies have shown that teachers, through their daily contact with students, are often in the best position to make curriculum and instructional policy decisions. Recent research has shown that, in contrast to the traditional teacher leader model that has teachers taking on the management of other teachers, a “distributive leadership” model that focuses on teachers as instructional leaders can lead to increased student achievement.

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards has identified a career continuum for teachers that progresses from pre-service teacher to teacher leader with support from other professionals. However, this process is voluntary and undertaken at the expense of the teacher.

 

Sources:

“The Teacher Leadership Competencies.” (2014). Center for Teaching Quality. Retrieved October 2017. <https://www.nea.org/assets/docs/AZK1408_TLC_FINAL.pdf>

“Developing the Career Continuum.” (2017). National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.   Retrieved October 2017. <http://www.nbpts.org/developing-career-continuum>

Bierly, Chris, Betsy Doyle and Abigail Smith. (January 2016). “Transforming Schools: How Distributed Leadership Can Create More High Performing Schools.” Bain & Company. Retrieved January 19, 2016. <http://www.bain.com/publications/articles/transforming-schools.aspx?hootPostID=0f613260ad3167f3fc4a69ee2f25fce0Sent>

In March 2011, Governor Rick Scott signed his first bill into law. The Student Success Act (SB 736) required districts to rate teachers and administrators annually, with a portion of their score dependent on student test scores (“learning growth”). The measure used to align student test scores to the teacher is known as value added measure (VAM). In 2017, HB 7069 changed the required use of VAM. The evaluation still requires a third of a teacher’s score to be based on a measurement of student learning growth (typically assessments) but it now allows districts to use an alternate formula. This new formula will be developed by a third party vendor and approved by the Commissioner of Education. The new formula will take into account prior academic performance but will not consider things like socioeconomic status.

Last September, the Florida Times Union reviewed VAM scores of First Coast teachers. They found two-thirds of teachers in the 20 highest poverty schools earned negative VAM scores (students showed lower than expected academic growth). Two-thirds of teachers in the 20 lowest poverty schools earned positive VAM scores. This phenomenon is common according to Audrey Amrein-Beardsley, an association professor of education policy and evaluation at Arizona State University.

Since the implementation of the Student Success Act, research has put a spotlight on whether VAM is an accurate measure of student learning. The American Statistical Society, the American Psychological Association, the American Educational Research Association and numerous other professional associations have called into question if VAM reflects a direct measure of a teacher’s impact on student learning and cautions using the statistical model for this purpose.

Alternative methods of evaluation have also been researched. The Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium requires documentation of lesson plans that link to state standards, videotapes and critiques of lessons, and evidence of student learning. The National Board of Professional Teaching Standards has a rigorous certification process that also requires extensive documentation. Studies show that significant relationships exist between both methods and student improvement on standardized tests.

 

Sources:

Amos, Denise Smith. “Some question state’s measurement of teacher effectiveness.” (September 2017). Jacksonville Times-Union. Retrieved October 2017. http://jacksonville.com/news/education/2017-09-15/some-question-state-s-measurement-teacher-effectiveness

“SB 736 – The Student Success Act Outlines How Florida Teachers Get Paid.” (May 2013). State Impact Florida: National Public Radio. Retrieved November 2014. <http://stateimpact.npr.org/florida/tag/senate-bill-736/>

Polikoff, Morgan S., and Andrew C. Porter. (2014). “Instructional Alignment as a Measure of Teaching Quality.” Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 1-18. Retrieved November 2014. <http://epa.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/04/11/0162373714531851.full.pdf>

Amrein-Beardsley, Audrey, Linda Darling-Hammond, Haertel, Edward and Jesse Rothstein. (September 2011). “Getting Teacher Evaluation Right: A Challenge for Policymakers.” Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education. Retrieved January 19, 2016 <https://edpolicy.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/publications/getting-teacher-evaluation-right-challenge-policy-makers.pdf>

“ASA Statement on Using Value-Added Models for Educational Assessment.” (April 2014). American Statistical Association. Retrieved January 19 2016. <http://www.amstat.org/policy/pdfs/ASA_VAM_Statement.pdf>

David, Jane L. “What Research Says About… /Using Value-Added Measures to Evaluate Teachers.” (May 2010). ACSD: Educational Leadership. Retrieved January 19, 2016. <http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational_leadership/may10/vol67/num08/Using_Value-Added_Measures_to_Evaluate_Teachers.aspx>

Amrein-Beardsley, Audrey. “VAMboozled!: Why Standardized Tests Should Not Be Used to Evaluate Teachers (and Teacher Education Programs).” (December 2015). National Education Policy Center. Retrieved January 19, 2016. <http://nepc.colorado.edu/blog/why-standardized-tests>.

“SB 736 – The Student Success Act Outlines How Florida Teachers Get Paid.” (May 2013). State Impact Florida: National Public Radio. Retrieved November 2014. <http://stateimpact.npr.org/florida/tag/senate-bill-736/>

Polikoff, Morgan S., and Andrew C. Porter. (2014). “Instructional Alignment as a Measure of Teaching Quality.” Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 1-18. Retrieved November 2014. <http://epa.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/04/11/0162373714531851.full.pdf>

Amrein-Beardsley, Audrey, Linda Darling-Hammond, Haertel, Edward and Jesse Rothstein. (September 2011). “Getting Teacher Evaluation Right: A Challenge for Policymakers.” Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education. Retrieved January 19, 2016.

<https://edpolicy.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/publications/getting-teacher-evaluation-right-challenge-policy-makers.pdf>

“ASA Statement on Using Value-Added Models for Educational Assessment.” (April 2014). American Statistical Association. Retrieved January 19 2016.<http://www.amstat.org/policy/pdfs/ASA_VAM_Statement.pdf>

David, Jane L. “What Research Says About… /Using Value-Added Measures to Evaluate Teachers.” (May 2010). ACSD: Educational Leadership. Retrieved January 19, 2016. <http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational_leadership/may10/vol67/num08/Using_Value-Added_Measures_to_Evaluate_Teachers.aspx>

Amrein-Beardsley, Audrey. “VAMboozled!: Why Standardized Tests Should Not Be Used to Evaluate Teachers (and Teacher Education Programs).” (December 2015). National Education Policy Center. Retrieved January 19, 2016. <http://nepc.colorado.edu/blog/why-standardized-tests>.

As over 10 million teachers retire from America’s classrooms before the end of this decade, communities will be faced with the dilemma of attracting and keeping people in a profession that has been increasingly maligned and burdened by policy makers. Additionally, as the economy rebounds, more individuals employed in education support positions choose to leave education for higher paying fields. According to a recent study of families facing financial hardship in the state of Florida conducted by the United Way, a family of four needs to make at least $53,856 a year to be considered financially stable. A large number of school district employees fall below this threshold. Children from these homes often attend our public schools. This means that school districts contribute to the number of children they educate from financially unstable homes.

As starting salaries for teachers fail to keep pace with other professions that attract the best our colleges have to offer, filling classrooms with highly qualified teachers is becoming more and more challenging. As teachers’ professional standing, pay, and job security are more closely tied to student achievement, recruiting teachers to traditionally low performing schools or those with a population of low-income and minority students becomes even more difficult. The number of Florida university students graduating with education degrees has fallen since 2006 by nearly 5,000, while public school enrollment has grown. A national study released in September 2016 showed teachers’ dissatisfaction with their jobs was leading to fewer people pursuing education careers. Florida teachers point to low pay and the controversial evaluation system.

Districts across the country have started to report critical shortages in teachers, as well as bus drivers, exceptional education aides and clerical staff. In fact, there are currently over 4,000 teaching positions in the state of Florida not filled by a qualified teacher. A majority of these openings often occur in schools and services that serve our students most in need.

 

Sources:

Postal, Leslie. (February 2017). “Florida school districts wrestle with teacher shortage.” Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved October 2017. http://www.orlandosentinel.com/features/education/school-zone/os-florida-schools-teacher-shortages-universities-20170203-story.html

Postal, Leslie. (August 2018). “Florida’s Teacher Shortage.”Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved February 2019. https://www.orlandosentinel.com/features/education/school-zone/os-teacher-shortage-florida-local-schools-20180817-story.html

“Key Facts about NEA’s ESP Members.” National Education Association. Retrieved October 2017. <http://www.nea.org/home/18264.htm>

Odell, S., and D. Ferraro. (1992). “Teacher Mentoring and Teacher Retention.” Journal of Teacher Education, 43(3), 200-204. Retrieved October 2017.

Carver, C., and S. Feinman-Nesmer. (2009). “Using Policy to Improve Teacher Induction: Critical Elements and Missing Pieces.” Education Policy, 23(2), 295-328. Retrieved October 2017.

“Research on Professional Pay.” (2017). National Education Association. Retrieved November 2017. http://www.nea.org/home/1030.htm

Hoopes Halpin, Stephanie. (2017). “ALICE: Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed Study of Financial Hardship.” United Way of Florida. Retrieved November 2017.<http://www.uwof.org/sites/uwof.org/files/17UW%20ALICE%20Report_FL%20Update_2.14.17_Lowres_0.pdf >

West, Mark and Stephanie Woodford. “Hillsborough County Public Schools Salary Schedules.” Hillsborough County Public Schools. Retrieved November 2017. < https://www.sdhc.k12.fl.us/docs/00/00/06/82/Employee_Salary_Schedules.pdf >

Studies have shown that when teachers are given autonomy with curriculum and the practice of teaching, job related stress decreased and teachers’ feelings of professionalism, empowerment, and overall job satisfaction increased. These results did not differ across teaching levels (elementary, middle, high school). Teachers with decision making authority accept accountability, innovate and create positive school cultures.

Teaching has a far higher turnover rate than many other professions requiring a college degree, with rates even higher in low-income schools and high need subjects of science and math. Thus, greater teacher autonomy may be a strategy to keeping teachers in the profession longer. However, as school districts are subjected to more accountability mandates, they require more accountability and allow for less autonomy at the school and classroom level.

 

Sources:

Farris-Berg, Kim. Trusting Teachers with School Success. Retrieved November 2017. https://www.teacherpowered.org/trustingteachers

Moomaw, W. and L. Pearson. (2005). “The Relationship between Teacher Autonomy and Stress, Work Satisfaction, Empowerment, and Professionalism.” Educational Research Quarterly, 29(1), 38-54. Retrieved November 2017.

 

Berry, B. (February 2014). “Teacher autonomy and teaching quality: Putting more think into the think             tank.” Center for Teaching Quality. Retrieved November 2017. <http://www.teachingquality.org/content/blogs/barnett-berry/teacher-autonomy-and-teaching- quality-putting-more-think-think-tank>

State education standards have been around since the early 1990s. This effort had been largely left up to a state by state process and by 2000 states had their own standards and definition of proficiency, a measure of educational attainment. This inconsistency between state lead to an effort in 2009, lead but the Council of Chief State School Officers to develop a common set of standards, known as the Common Core.  Although the effort had been state led the establishment of a competitive grant process known as “Race to the Top” released by the US Department of Education to incentivize state to adopt college ready standards made many believe the Common Core State Standards Initiative was a top down education reform.

In Florida, reaction to adoption of the Common Core included a large public outcry that the process had not included sufficient input from Floridians. This led Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart to hold a number of public input sessions and solicit feedback online. Minimal changes were made and they were rebranded The Florida Standards.

In 2019, newly elected Governor Ron DeSantis issued an Executive Order to study The Florida Standards and issue recommendations for the possible development and adoption of new standards. Lessons to be learned from states that have successfully adopted Common Core (Kentucky), as well as independent standards (Virginia),  and seen a correlated rise in student achievement demonstrate that the process must be open to the public and include opportunities for input from content area experts as well as all stakeholder groups.

 

Sources:

Common Core: A look at how Kentucky made it work. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://edexcellence.net/articles/common-core-a-look-at-how-kentucky-made-it-work

Sawchuk, S. (2019, February 04). Common Core Scrapped Under Florida Gov.’s Executive Order. Retrieved from http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2019/02/common_core_scrapped_under_flo.html

Your Essential Guide To The Common Core. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://stateimpact.npr.org/florida/tag/common-core/

PolitiFact: Distortions on Common Core. (2013, October 21). Retrieved from http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/politifact-rumors-blacken-common-core/2148256

Purpose. (2016, July 19). Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/index.html

Development Process. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.corestandards.org/about-the-standards/development-process/

Virginia Department of Education. (n.d.). Standards of Learning (SOL) & Testing. Retrieved from http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/index.shtml

Historical Overview of the Standards of Learning Program 2013. Virginia Department of Education http://www.doe.virginia.gov/boe/reports/annual_reports/2013_appendix_a_sol_history.pdf

Gewertz, C. (2018, June 21). In National First, Kentucky Adopts Common Standards. Retrieved from https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2010/02/11/22kentucky_ep.h29.html

Brown, J. (2014, January 05). 3 years later, is Common Core working in Kentucky? Retrieved from https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2014/01/05/3-years-later-is-common-core-working-in-kentucky/4323979/

Testing

Studies have shown that when teachers are given autonomy with curriculum and the practice of teaching, job related stress decreased and teachers’ feelings of professionalism, empowerment, and overall job satisfaction increased. These results did not differ across teaching levels (elementary, middle, high school). Teachers with decision making authority accept accountability, innovate and create positive school cultures.

Teaching has a far higher turnover rate than many other professions requiring a college degree, with rates even higher in low-income schools and high need subjects of science and math. Thus, greater teacher autonomy may be a strategy to keeping teachers in the profession longer. However, as school districts are subjected to more accountability mandates, they require more accountability and allow for less autonomy at the school and classroom level.

Sources:

Farris-Berg, Kim. Trusting Teachers with School Success. Retrieved November 2017. https://www.teacherpowered.org/trustingteachers

Moomaw, W. and L. Pearson. (2005). “The Relationship between Teacher Autonomy and Stress, Work Satisfaction, Empowerment, and Professionalism.” Educational Research Quarterly, 29(1), 38-54. Retrieved November 2017.

Berry, B. (February 2014). “Teacher autonomy and teaching quality: Putting more think into the think             tank.” Center for Teaching Quality. Retrieved November 2017. <http://www.teachingquality.org/content/blogs/barnett-berry/teacher-autonomy-and-teaching- quality-putting-more-think-think-tank>

A four-year analysis of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), conducted by the Center for Education Policy in 2006, highlighted the perils of public education’s reliance on standardized testing as a student performance measure. Many of the study’s respondents credited NCLB for a narrowing of curriculum with a focus on reading and math that has reduced instructional time for other subjects. More recent research indicates that high-stakes assessments can motivate teachers to change instruction; however, these changes are focused on test preparation rather than practices that promote deeper learning.

With the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, testing requirements are the same as under NCLB. However, the consequences are very different with less emphasis on sanctions. States are required to test students in reading or language arts and math annually in grades 3-8 and once in grades 10-12, and in science once in each of the following grade spans: 3-5, 6-9 and 10-12.

 

Although some learning gains have been reported under NCLB throughout the years, there has been no significant increase in the numbers of students seen to be performing at grade-level.  Many experts in education and assessment attribute this outcome to both over-testing and also to the selection of inexpensive tests, as opposed to assessments that measure true student learning. Although many assessments designed to more accurately measure student learning have been developed, policy makers in Florida have continually labeled them as too expensive. House Bill 7069 requires the Commissioner to contract for an independent study to determine whether the SAT and/or ACT may be administered in lieu of the grade 10 ELA and Algebra 1 EOC assessments while continuing to meet federal requirements. The findings of the study are due to the Governor, President of the Senate, Speaker of the House, and the State Board by January 1, 2018.

Sources:

Chudowsky, N., S. Joftus, N. Kober, D.S. Renter, C. Scott, and D. Zabala. (March 2006). “From the capital to             the classroom.” Washington, DC: Center on Education Policy. Retrieved January 19, 2016. <http://www.cep-dc.org>

Supovitz, Jonathan. (January 2016). “Is High-Stakes Testing Working?” Penn Graduate School of Education. Retrieved January 19, 2016. <https://www.gse.upenn.edu/review/feature/supovitz>

Darling-Hammond, Linda. (December 2013). “School Testing Systems Should Be Examined in 2014.” Morning Edition, National Public Radio. Retrieved January 19, 2016. <http://www.npr.org/2013/12/26/257255808/future-series-examining-education>

Darling-Hammond, Linda. (September 2013). “Student Assessments That Work.” Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education. Retrieved January 19, 2016. <https://edpolicy.stanford.edu/publications/pubs/999>

O’Connor, John. (September 2013). “Gov. Scott Says Proposed Multi-State Test Will Take Too Long And Is Too Expensive.” StateImpact, National Public Radio. Retrieved January 19, 2016. <https://stateimpact.npr.org/florida/2013/09/19/gov-scott-says-proposed-multi-state-test-will-take-too-long-and-is-too-expensive/>

House Bill 7069. Florida Senate. Retrieved November 2017. http://www.miamiherald.com/latest-news/article162630253.ece/binary/FLDOE-summary-of-HB7069.pdf

Florida students can spend 8 hours or more on state mandated standardized tests. The total testing time for students in middle and high school can be even greater, depending on the number of End of Course, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Industry Certification exams. A majority of these tests must be administered on computers, which are limited at many schools. This use of technology for testing provides a significant disruption to regular instruction, not only for the students taking the tests, but to other students barred from normal instruction to accommodate others who are testing.

House Bill 7069 provided the following changes to testing:

  • Deleted the requirement that a student must pass the Algebra II EOC statewide, standardized assessment to earn a scholar diploma designation.
  • Removed Algebra II as a State EOC requirement.
  • Statewide ELA and Math FSA for grades 3-6 will be administered on paper
  • Assessment results can be delivered no later than June 30th, decreased the testing window, moved assessment calendar publication to January along with other district regulations.

Sources:

Gartner, Lisa. (February 2014). “Sen. John Legg aims to address over-testing in Florida public schools. Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved January 19, 2016. <“http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/bill-aims-to-address-over-testing-in-florida-    public-schools/2166841>

“Calendars.” Hillsborough County Public Schools. Retrieved January 19, 2016. <http://www.sdhc.k12.fl.us/calendar/>

“Assessment Calendars.” Pinellas County Public Schools. Retrieved January 19, 2016. <http://pcsb.org/Page/7474>

Lazarín, Melissa. (October 2014). “Testing Overload in America’s Schools.” Center for American Progress. Retrieved January 19, 2016. <https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/education/report/2014/10/16/99073/testing-overload-in-americas-schools/>

O’Connor, John. (March 2013). “Florida Students Will Spend At Least Eight Hours A Year Taking New Standardized Test.” StateImpact, National Public Radio. Retrieved January 19, 2016. <https://stateimpact.npr.org/florida/2013/03/06/florida-students-will-spend-at-least-eight-        hours-a-year-taking-new-standardized-test/>

“ESEA Reauthorization: What People Are Saying.” U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved January 19, 2016. <http://www.ed.gov/esea/what-people-are-saying>

House Bill 7069. Florida Senate. Retrieved November 2017. http://www.miamiherald.com/latest-news/article162630253.ece/binary/FLDOE-summary-of-HB7069.pdf

Funding

For the 2018-2019 school year, the K-12 education system has a total budget of about $21 billion, or about $7,407 per student.

Florida’s per-pupil spending lags far behind the national average of about $11,392. And even then, Florida’s funding is less than what it was a decade ago, and certainly has not kept up with inflation. Per-pupil spending should have to be roughly $8,358 next fiscal year to simply equal the 2007-08 level, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator.

Education Week gave Florida an F for spending and an F for per pupil funding in its annual Quality Counts report. It ranked Florida the last in all states for per pupil expenditures. This year, a constitutional lawsuit challenging the low funding levels was rejected by the state’s Supreme Court stating the constitutional language was too vague.

In the primary and general elections of 2018, voters across Florida approved 18 local referendums to help pay for expenses such as campus security, new classrooms, renovations, technology and teacher salaries. This is a direct result of a lack of funding from the state.

 

Sources:

Hess, Abigail.“The 5 states that spend the most on students.” CNBC. April 2018. (Retrieved February 2019) https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/16/the-5-states-that-spend-the-most-on-students.html

“Florida Education Finance Program Second Calculation.” Florida Department of Education. Retrieved January 2019. http://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/7507/urlt/18192ndCalc.pdf

Solochek, Jeff. “Florida rates poorly in per-student funding, in new Education Week report” Tampa Bay Times. June 2018. https://www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook/2018/06/06/florida-rates-poorly-in-per-student-funding-in-new-education-week-report/

Cornman, Stephen Q. (February 2017). “Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary School Districts: School Year 2013–14 (Fiscal Year 2014).” National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved October 25, 2017. <https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2016/2016303.pdf>

Florida voters are saying yes when school districts ask for more money. Is that a good thing? (2018, November 12). Retrieved from https://www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook/2018/11/12/florida-voters-are-saying-yes-when-school-districts-ask-for-more-money-is-that-a-good-thing/

Florida’s Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) program was established in 1963, to fund public higher education construction and maintenance projects. K-12 education was added to PECO allocations in 1974. PECO works to fund Florida’s long-term need for education facilities with a portion of the gross receipts tax (GRT) on utilities, including electricity, telecommunications and cable. The GRT is utilized to borrow money at very low interest rates by issuing tax-exempt PECO bond offerings.

In addition to land costs, which vary greatly, $20 million is required to build an elementary school, $30 million for a middle school and about $65 million for a high school. PECO funds are also to be used to maintain existing buildings- including air conditioning systems, roofs, and other capital projects.

There are approximately 2.8 million students in traditional public schools and 270,000 in charter schools. Charter schools lease space from private entities which are often for-profit management companies running the schools. However, PECO funds of $100 million are now divided into two equal pots of money – 50% for school districts and 50% for charter schools- even though only 11% of students attend charters.

Pinellas County schools alone have projected more than $400 million in construction and capital needs over the next 5 years. However, the district received just under $8.1 million from the state over the last 5 years.

An average of 10,000 new homes will be permitted each year for the next 15 years, mostly in southeastern Hillsborough, requiring 23 to 38 new schools and frequent changes in attendance zone boundaries, according to a report by the Tindale Oliver consulting firm.

In addition, school districts will now also be required to share up to $96 million in locally raised tax revenues that would have otherwise gone to district school construction and maintenance projects based on approved five-year capital facilities plans. This has prompted law suits by multiple districts across the state. Attorneys for the school boards argue this new mandate violates aspects of the Florida Constitution that say school boards “shall operate, control and supervise all free public schools … and determine the rate of school district taxes”.

 

Sources:

(June 2017). Charter schools could get $96M in capital aid from Florida school districts next year. Miami Herald. http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article158934284.html?#emlnl=Morning_Newsletter

Clark, Kristen. (September 2017) Stage is set for a big court battle over Florida’s funding of charter schools. Tampa Bay Times. http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/stage-is-set-for-a-big-court-battle-over-floridas-funding-of-charter/2339379

“2016-2017 EDUCATION FAST FACTS.” (July 2017). Florida School Boards Association. Retrieved October 25, 2017. < http://fsba.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/2016-2017-EducationFastFacts.pdf>

“FACT SHEET: Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO).” (July 2012). State University System Board of Governors. Retrieved October 2017. <http://flbog.edu/pressroom/_doc/7.2012-PECO-Fact-Sheet-Press-Room.pdf>

“Editorial: Taxpayers assume risk, little gain for charter schools.” (December 2015). Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved January 19, 2016. <http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-taxpayers-assume-risk-little-gain-for-charter-schools/2258977>

Solochek, Jeff. (June 2015). “Schools need more construction money, Pinellas Superintendent says.” Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved October 25, 2017. <http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook/schools-need-more-construction-money-pinellas-superintendent-says/2234867>

 

Sokol, Marlene. (April 2017). “Report: Population growth will mean more debt and painful rezoning.” Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved October 25, 2017. http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/report-population-growth-will-mean-more-debt-and-painful-rezoning-for/2320617

Florida’s school grading system offers additional funding to schools that have the highest levels of student achievement. Schools that might benefit from extra teachers to support struggling students or extended hours of instruction do not receive the extra funding to do so. In 2014, the Florida Legislature mandated that the 300 lowest performing elementary schools must add 1 hour of additional reading instruction each day, with an estimated cost of $300,000 per school. However, there was no additional funding provided for this initiative. A state review found that students in only 20 percent of the extra-hour schools outperformed demographically and academically similar students at non-participating schools.

House Bill 7069, passed in 2017, severely limits the district’s ability to rank and serve its poorest schools. Formerly, districts had the ability to use federal Title 1 funds with more efficiency and economies of scale to serve their highest poverty schools. Under HB 7069, Title 1 funds now pass through the districts directly to schools. The law severely restricts the amount districts can use for parent engagement, foster student transportation, homeless student services and other programs that support all high poverty students.

 

Sources:

“House Bill 7069.” The Florida Senate. Retrieved October 25, 2017. <https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2017/7069/BillText/er/PDF>

“Florida School Recognition Program” (2017). Florida Department of Education. Retrieved October 2017. < http://www.fldoe.org/accountability/accountability-reporting/fl-school-recognition-program/>

Postal, Leslie. (May 2014). “300 elementary schools in Florida have to add an hour to school day for reading lessons.” Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved November 1, 2014. <http://www.orlandosentinel.com/features/education/school-zone/os-elementary-schools-longer-day-florida-post.html>

 

Marra, Andrew. (May 2015). Extra classes doing little to help Palm Beach County’s weakest readers. Palm Beach Post. Retrieved October 25, 2017. http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/extra-classes-doing-little-help-palm-beach-county-weakest-readers/RTAgzsc0Lxw6zVP5hRWdQP/

Florida school districts are often the largest public transportation provider in their counties. For example, Orange County school buses travel over 17,000,000 miles during the school year utilizing an average of 900 daily routes with over 26,000 bus stops. Florida state law requires students living 2 miles or more from their school or students with disabilities must be transported by a school bus. Many districts include additional students due to safety concerns based on their walking routes and transport students to magnet and other programs, as well.

However, Florida allocates less than 50% of the funds needed to fulfill the state required obligation. For example, Hillsborough County’s transportation costs, which include employee costs, fuel and maintenance, totaled $73.4 million in 2015-2016 school year yet, the state allocation was only $34 million. Pinellas’ costs totaled $36.6 million but they only received $12.3 million from the state.

School bell times are impacted by this lack of funding. In order to reduce transportation costs, districts stagger school start times to share buses and drivers.

 

Sources:

General Information about Transportation Services. (2017) Orange County Public Schools. Retrieved November 2017. https://www.ocps.net/departments/transportation_services

Student Transportation: General Instructions. (2013-2014). Florida Department of Education. Retrieved November 2017. http://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/7507/urlt/0077156-1314transins.pdf

Sokol, Marlene. (December 2016). Courtesy busing cuts clear the Hillsborough School Board, affecting 7,500 students. Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved November 2017. http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/cuts-in-hillsborough-school-busing-will-be-discussed-at-todays-school/2305172

 

Florida School District Transportation Profiles 2015-2016. (2017) Florida Department of Education. Retrieved November 2017. http://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/7585/urlt/SDTPSY1516Profiles.pdf

The historical practice in Florida prior to 2016, allowed the Required Local Effort (RLE) millage rate to reflect increases in property values as well as new construction.

Many stakeholders are asking the legislature to retain, rather than roll-back, the Required Local Effort (RLE) millage rate so it reflects both the overall increases in property values and the increases in property values attributable to improvements or new construction or, at a minimum, use state funds to replace the loss of local revenue due to any total or partial rollback of the RLE millage rate.

School districts stand to lose millions. For example, Hillsborough County Public Schools would lose $78 million with the projected roll back.

 

Sources:

Florida FEFP 2018. Florida School Boards Association. https://fsba.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/FEFP-History-2007-2008-and-2012-2019-2nd-Calculation.pdf

2019 Legislative Platform. Florida Schools Boards Association. https://fsba.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Adopted-FSBA-2019-Legislative-Platform.Revised-Final.pdf

Well-Rounded Education

Families are essential partners in their children’s success in early learning and development.  Strong family engagement in early learning improves development in all areas, physical, intellectual and social emotional which ultimately prepares them for school and academic success.

Studies indicate that family involvement is associated with higher student achievement. These findings emerged consistently, whether the outcome measures were grades, standardized test scores, or a variety of other measurements.

Benefits for children in a family regularly involved in their education include higher grades and tests scores, enrollment in higher level programs, on time grade promotion, class pass rate, overall school attendance, better social skills and behavior, on-time graduation, and enrollment in post-secondary education.

In addition, effective Parent Involvement has transformed to include family, community and school partnerships to achieve success for students.  When all parties are involved students have higher achievement, better grades, tend to stay in school longer and have plans for the future.

 

Sources:

“Editorial Projects in Education Research Center.” (August 2004). Issues A-Z: Parent Involvement. Education Week. Retrieved November 27, 2014. <http://www.edweek.org/ew/issues/parent-involvement/>

Jeynes, William H. (2005). “Parental Involvement and Student Achievement: A Meta-Analysis.” Family Involvement Research Journal. Retrieved November 1, 2014. <http://www.hfrp.org/publications-resources/browse-our-publications/parental-involvement-and-student-achievement-a-meta-analysis>

“Statement on Family Engagement from the Early Years to the Early Grades”. (May 2016). US Department of Health and Human Services US Department of Education. Retrieved October 2017.

https://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/earlylearning/files/policy-statement-on-family-engagement.pdf

“November is Florida Family Engagement in Education Month!” Florida Department of Education. Retrieved November 2017. http://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/7739/urlt/FEM-Proclamation.pdf

 

“Parent Involvement”. National Education Association. Retrieved November 2017.

http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/PB11_ParentInvolvement08.pdf

Culturally relevant instruction makes students’ own skills, languages, and attitudes meaningful in the classroom. It means getting to know students in a way that is personal and individual. Culturally relevant teaching has shown to be a powerful method for increasing student achievement and engagement and for reducing achievement gaps. Studies show that culturally relevant teaching was significantly associated with improved academic outcomes and ethnic-racial identity development for students.

Students whose lives and cultures are not treated as important are less likely to invest in the overall learning process, whereas those who are empowered and feel valued will be ready to learn, even if that connection is made through something as simple as teaching the lesson through pop culture, movies, or the music that the class will enjoy. A culturally responsive curriculum and instruction connects classrooms to many cultures inside and outside of school.

 

Sources:

Fuglei , Monica. “Culturally Responsive Teaching: Empowering Students Through Respect”Room 241 Concordia University. June 2014 (Retrieved February 2019) https://education.cu-portland.edu/blog/classroom-resources/culturally-responsive-teaching-empowering-students-through-respect/

Byrd, Christy. “Does Culturally Relevant Teaching Work? An Examination From Student Perspectives” SAGE Open. September 2016 (Retrieved February 2019). https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/2158244016660744

Moving to middle school requires a student to make multiple adjustments, including novel routines, new school organization and increasingly difficult academic, social and personal challenges. Studies have shown that moving out of elementary school is often followed by a drop in student achievement, and that extra supports are needed to help students make both social and cognitive transitions. Many programs can help ease this transition, like starting career and technical education at the middle school level, offering arts programs and having accessible academic counselors. However, staffing programs beyond core course requirements creates budgetary strains.

As a culture of accountability and an intense focus on literacy and math skills has developed at schools, resources have been shifted from supporting social and emotional growth of students. The emphasis on “academics first” has led to middle schools to operate more like high schools and ignore the different developmental needs of early adolescence. Consequently, more students have become disengaged with school and parents have begun to search for alternatives to the traditional middle school setting. Research has shown when middle schools attend to the social-emotional well-being of students and allow flexibility in academic schedules for time to explore interests tied to future careers, students can gain strong skills that allow them to enter high school on a path to graduation.

 

Sources:

Sachs Wise, P. and V. Neisen. “TRANSITION FROM ELEMENTARY TO MIDDLE SCHOOL: STRATEGIES FOR             EDUCATORS.” Helping Children at Home and School II: Handouts for Families and Educators, 163-            165. Retrieved November 2017.

Balfanz, Robert. (June 2009). “Putting Middle Years Students on the Graduation Pathway: A Policy and Practice Brief.” National Middle School Association. Retrieved November 2017. <https://www.amle.org/portals/0/pdf/articles/policy_brief_balfanz.pdf>

Grow, Empower, and Engage: Redesigning Middle Schools in Miami-Dade County. (2018, August 17). Retrieved from https://communitynewspapers.com/kendall-gazette/grow-empower-and-engage-redesigning-middle-schools-in-miami-dade-county/

New York City DOE Middle School Redesign. (2014, March 05). Retrieved from https://www.timeandlearning.org/new-york-city-doe-middle-school-redesign

 

OPINION: Don’t count teachers out of school redesign. (2018, December 24). Retrieved from https://hechingerreport.org/opinion-dont-count-teachers-out-of-school-redesign/

As high stakes tests and school accountability systems have become the norm across our education system, an increased emphasis has been put on literacy and math instruction, limiting the time students spend on other subjects including the arts. This is despite evidence that arts integration into other academic instruction increased student achievement, especially in the subjects of reading and math. Schools with superior music programs report that English scores are 22 percent higher and math scores are 20 percent higher on standardized tests.  Additionally, students cited participation in arts programs as a motivator to stay in school, positively impacting the levels of delinquency, truancy and academic performance. Due to the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2016, changes in funding have resulted in less access to arts education for many children.

Throughout childhood, especially in the elementary grades, students have a need for physical activity, including free play, throughout the day. Regularly engaging in play and being active in other ways has shown to boost academic achievement in children. Yet more emphasis on testing had often meant an emphasis on “seat time” for students with formal instruction prioritized over more active learning. This has led to an increase in obesity as well and other health related issues for kids.

Parents and business leaders alike continue to express an interest for students to graduate from high school ready to pursue post-secondary education or training AND with skills that make them ready to engage in the world with life and job-ready skills. Chief among the skills desired by today’s employers are the ability to use digital tools and basic financial literacy. These skills, although vital to survival in today’s economy, are often not addressed with students in formal education. The lack of exposure to these skills is often more extreme for children in low-income homes where access to computers, the internet and traditional financial institutions may be limited.

 

Sources:

https://rossieronline.usc.edu/blog/teacher-digital-literacy/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/margueritacheng/2018/06/18/financial-literacy-is-the-greatest-gift-of-all/

https://www.inc.com/john-boitnott/how-this-innovative-nonprofit-is-teaching-inner-city-kids-about-personal-finance.html

https://www.naesp.org/principal-septemberoctober-2013-early-learning/it-s-playtime

http://time.com/4982061/recess-benefits-research-debate/

https://cnx.org/contents/mkI8AJxk@1/The-Impact-of-Physical-Activity-and-Obesity-on-Academic-Achievement-Among-Elementary-Students

Deasy, R. (2002). “Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development.” Arts Education Partnership, EDD 466 413(DCA-917-16), 171-171.

“Making the Case for Educating the Whole Child.” (2012). Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Retrieved November 2017.

Johnson, Christopher M. and Jenny E. Memmott. (2006). “Examination of Relationship between Participation in School Music Programs of Differing Quality and Standardized Test Results” NAFME Journal of Research in Music Education, 54(4), 293- 307. Retrieved November 2017.

“Ten Salient Studies on the Arts in Education.” Online Colleges. Retrieved January 2016.             <http://www.onlinecolleges.net/10-salient-studies-on-the-arts-in-education/>

Lewis Brown, Laura. “The Benefits of Music Education.” PBS Parents. Retrieved January 2016. <http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/music-arts/the-benefits-of-music-education/>

 

“Arts Education in Public Schools”. (2017) Americans for the Arts. Retrieved November 2017. https://www.americansforthearts.org/news-room/arts-mobilization-center/statement-on-arts-education-in-public-schools-upon-the-appointment-of-betsy-devos

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education has become more important as skills in these areas have become vital to our workforce in the 21st century. However, Florida has not yet adopted a set of standards for science education that are research-based to give local educators the flexibility to design classroom learning experiences that stimulate students’ interests in science and prepares them for college, careers, and citizenship.

Legislation proposed for the 2019 Florida legislative session would mandate the teaching of “alternative theories” to scientific topics such as evolution and climate science. These “alternative theories” are not supported by a process of scientific inquiry accepted by academics in related fields. The teaching of science should not be based on rote memorization of theories but rather the use of skills and vocabulary related to the process of inquiry. Presenting students with theories not accepted by content areas experts undermines the quality of education they receive and their ability to compete for jobs in the global economy.

 

Sources:

https://www.nextgenscience.org/

https://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/uk/15/11/why-science

https://www.tampabay.com/florida-politics/buzz/2019/01/29/florida-bill-would-have-students-learn-alternatives-to-climate-change-evolution/

Educational Governance

The 10th amendment to the U.S. Constitution grants an implied right to govern public education to the individual states. The Florida Constitution, in turn, grants control of local schools to locally elected school boards. The assignment of the oversight of public education to local authority follows a long held societal belief that local authority allows for more sensitivity to community needs.

Local districts can adapt to the unique social and cultural dynamics of their community and pursue more creativity in addressing educational issues which develop. Local school boards have been shown to be more flexible and pragmatic about meeting the needs of individual schools over a number of years. As more elements of education policy are mandated from the state level, local boards lose more and more of their constitutional authority.

In May 2017, the Florida Legislature passed the controversial HB 7069. This law eliminates the power of local school boards to review and approve charter school applications or to require accountability from certain charter school companies designated by the legislature. The law also diverts local property taxes designated for school facility capital expenditures to charter school operators without regard to local district finances, growth needs or bond ratings.

House Bill 7069 severely limits the district’s ability to rank and serve its poorest schools. Formerly, districts had the ability to use federal Title 1 funds with more efficiency and economies of scale to serve their highest poverty schools. Under HB 7069, Title 1 funds pass through the districts directly to schools and the law severely restricts the amount districts can use for parent engagement, foster student transportation, homeless student services and other programs that support high poverty students and schools.

 

 

Sources:

Molnar, Michele. (July 2012). “Public Strong on Local Control of Schools, Study Finds.” EdWeek. Retrieved October 25, 2017. <http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/parentsandthepublic/2012/07/what_the_public_wants_in_school_control.html>

Hadderman, Margaret L. (1988). “State vs. Local Control of Schools. ERIC Digest Series Number 24.” ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management Eugene OR. Retrieved October 25, 2017.<http://www.ericdigests.org/pre-927/state.htm>

“Constitution of the State of Florida.” The Florida Senate. Retrieved October 25, 2017. <http://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Constitution>

Smentkowski, Brian P. “Tenth Amendment: United States Constitution.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved January 19, 2016. <http://www.britannica.com/topic/Tenth-Amendment>

 

“House Bill 7069.” The Florida Senate. Retrieved October 25, 2017. <https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2017/7069/BillText/er/PDF>

As a result of a 1998 ballot measure, the positions of Florida Secretary of State and Education Commissioner became appointed in 2002, and the Cabinet posts of comptroller and treasurer were eliminated.

A bill that was proposed in the 2016 Florida Legislative Session would have returned the position of Commissioner of Education to an elected member of the cabinet.  This bill, proposed by Representative- now Senator- Debbie Mayfield of Vero Beach, was in response to concerns raised by the public about the lack of accountability the position of Commissioner has to the general public, including parents. Part of the argument states that making this change would ensure that the Commissioner has a background more closely tied to education. An examination of Commissioners since 1986 does not support this, as a majority appointed to the position had experience in education prior to their service, while those elected were equally as likely to come from the private sector.

An examination of how the chief state school officer is placed into office across the 50 states shows that the majority are appointed either by the governor or the state board of education. Although little research is available on the “effectiveness” of policymakers who are elected versus appointed, one evaluation of sheriffs and city treasurers conclude that elected officials are more fiscally responsible than appointed.

Returning the role to an elected position would require three fifths vote by both legislative chambers and ultimately, would need the approval of 60% of the voters.

Sources:

Solochek, Jeffrey. (October 2017). “Some want to change Florida education- by amending the state Constitution.” Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved October 25, 2017. <http://www.tbo.com/news/education/k12/some-want-to-change-florida-education-8212-by-amending-the-state/2341056>

Sarkissian, Arek. (November 2015). “Bill would make education commissioner an elected position.” TC             Palm. Retrieved January 19 2016. <http://www.tcpalm.com/news/politics/bill-would-make-education-commissioner-an-elected-position-25c41f20-19c4-3be1-e053-0100007f2329-358928751.html>

McGrory, Kathleen. (August 2013). “Should education commissioner be an elected position?” Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved October 25, 2017. <http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/should-education-commissioner-be-an-elected-position/2134452>

“State Education Governance Matrix.” (January 2015). National Association of State Boards of Education.             Retrieved January 19, 2016. <http://www.nasbe.org/wp-content/uploads/Governance-matrix-January-2015.pdf>

Drazen, Allen and Erkut Y. Ozbay. (January 2011). “Does “Being Chosen to Lead” Induce Non-Selfish Behavior Experimental Evidence on Reciprocity*” Retrieved January 19, 2016.

<http://pdfshares.net/file/1mSw/how-do-elected-and-appointed-policymakers-act-when-in-        office-.html>

A 40-year study by Michigan State University shows that the public wants to run and improve public schools via local, elected school boards. Although those surveyed believe there is a role for federal, state and local governments, they believe that school boards should be in control of day-to-day operations of schools.

In Florida, this control is tied to a strict system of accountability for student achievement. Unfortunately, in some cases, local boards are held accountable for students, over which they have no oversight authority, including students educated with federal dollars in private schools and in the juvenile justice system. Efforts during the last two legislative sessions have eroded the local board jurisdiction over publicly educated students by circumventing their approval of charter contracts within districts.

In May 2017, the Florida Legislature passed the controversial HB 7069. This law eliminates the power of local school boards to review and approve charter school applications or to require accountability from certain charter school companies designated by the legislature.

In addition, HB 7069 slashed turnaround plans for schools that receive a school grade of D or F from five to three options. Now, school districts with a school receiving three consecutive grades below “C” must select one of the following options:

  • Reassign students to another school and monitor the progress of each reassigned student;
  • Close and reopen the school as one or more charter schools, each with a governing board that has a demonstrated record of effectiveness; or
  • Contract with an outside entity that has a demonstrated record of effectiveness to operate the school, which may include a district-managed charter school in which all instructional personnel are not employees of the school district, but are employees of an independent governing board composed of members who did not participate in the review or approval of the charter.

Essentially, the new law limits the turnaround plans districts can use to transferring students to another school or bringing in a charter option (private or district managed). This policy will fast track conversions of public schools to charters.

 

Sources:

Hatter, Lynn. (October 2015). “Charter School Authorization Bill Gets Revived For 2016 Session.” WFSU. Retrieved January 19, 2016. <http://news.wfsu.org/post/charter-school-authorization-bill-gets-   revived-2016-session>

“House Bill 7069.” The Florida Senate. Retrieved October 25, 2017. <https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2017/7069/BillText/er/PDF>

“Graduation Rate Calculator.” Palm Beach Public Schools. Retrieved January 19, 2016.<http://www.palmbeachschools.org/assessment/documents/GraduationRateCalculationandMet            hods.pdf>

Balingit, Moriah and Donna St. George. (January 2016). “The new federal education law returns power to the states. But how will they use it?” The Washington Post. Retrieved January 19, 2016. <https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/the-new-federal-education-law-returns-power-to-the-states-but-how-will-they-use-it/2016/01/11/f24c7334-b3ec-11e5-9388-466021d971de_story.html>

Molnar, Michele. (July 2012). “Public Strong on Local Control, Study Finds.” Education Week. Retrieved             October 2017. <http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/parentsandthepublic/2012/07/what_the_public_wants_in_school_control.html>

“Accountability.” The Florida School Boards Association. Retrieved October 25, 2017. <http://fsba.org/accountability/>

 

“Juvenile Justice Students Face Barriers to High School Graduation and Job Training.” (October 2010). The Florida Legislature OPPAGA: Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability. Retrieved January 19, 2016. <http://www.oppaga.state.fl.us/MonitorDocs/Reports/pdf/1055rpt.pdf>

High Quality Early Childhood Education

The Perry Preschool Study found that “…one dollar invested in high-quality early childhood education programs by policymakers results in a return of seven dollars in preventative costs associated with incarceration, truancy, school dropout and teen pregnancy”. Studies of birth-to-three interventions demonstrate that both child-centered and family-centered strategies can often make a lasting difference.

Although the impact of preschool is clear, admission to early childhood education that employs proven strategies is not available to every child, and often those who need it most have the least likelihood of access. Unlike other states, Florida has failed to adopt a quality rating system for early childhood providers and programs. This has made us ineligible to receive federal funding allocated for these programs.

Sources:

Balfield, C., S. Barnett, J. Montie, M. Nores, L. Scheweihart, and Z. Xiang. (2005). “The High/Scope Perry Preschool Study Through Age Forty.” High/Scope Education Research Foundation. Retrieved November 2014. <http://literacy.rice.edu/highscope-perry-preschool-study>

Stegelin, D. (2004). “Early childhood education.” In F.P. Schargel & J.Sminl (Eds.) Helping students graduate: A strategic approach to dropout prevention. 115-123. Retrieved November 2014. <http://dropoutprevention.org/effective-strategies/early-childhood-education/>

Moodie, Shannon, Margaret Soli, Rebecca Starr and Kathryn Trout. (April 2010). “Compendium of Quality Rating Systems and Evaluations.” The Child Care Quality Rating System (QRS) Assessment. Retrieved November 2014.<https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/qrs_compendium_final.pdf>

Childhood assessment is a process of gathering information about a child, in order to plan educational activities that are at a level the child is able to engage in learn from. Assessment has been determined to be a critical part of a high-quality, early childhood program. When educators do an assessment, they observe a child to get information about what he knows and what he can do. Comprehensive assessment is based on information from multiple sources, including measures that provide different types of information including:

  • Observations
  • Portfolios
  • Educator Ratings
  • Parent Ratings
  • Standardized Tests

Sources:

Gorski, D. Assessment in Early Childhood. Retrieved November 2017. http://www.getreadytoread.org/screening-tools/supportive-materials-for-elors/assessment-in-early-childhood

“Early Childhood Assessment.” Resources for Early Learning. Retrieved November 2017. http://resourcesforearlylearning.org/fm/early-childhood-assessment/

Success of Early Childhood programs with excellent teacher retention requires that Early Childhood professionals have ongoing professional development, be expertly prepared with resources and receive compensation equivalent to their experience and qualifications.  However the variety of settings in which early childhood education takes place (home and c enter based childcare, Head Start, VPK) makes delivering professional development across the spectrum of community early education a challenge. Little has been done in early childhood education to examine if current standards for credentialing caregivers (state license, experience) correlate with the knowledge, skills and professional practice associated with high quality early education. Ongoing professional development beyond initial license is not systematically required.

Sources:

Karoly, Lynn. “Informing Investments in High Quality Preschool”. Retrieved November 2017. https://www.rand.org/multimedia/video/2017/05/05/informing-investments-in-high-quality-preschool.html#in-brief-lynn-karoly-on-informing-investments-in-highquality-preschool

Park, Jennifer. “Florida’s Approach to Improving and Measuring Quality Investments”. Office of Early Learning. Retrieved November 2017. http://www.elcmdm.org/about_us/Board/minutes/Board/presentations/ImprovingMeasuringQualityInvestments.pdf

“A Call for Excellence in Early Childhood Education”. National Association for the Education of Young Children. Retrieved November 2017. http://flaeyc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/3_Early-Years-Are-Learning-Years_FLAEYC_One-Pager-1-1.pdfhttps://www.naeyc.org/policy/excellence

Martinez-Beck, I., & Zaslow, M. (2006). Introduction: The Context for Critical Issues in Early Childhood Professional Development. In M. Zaslow & I. Martinez-Beck (Eds.), Critical issues in early childhood professional development (pp. 1-16). Baltimore: Paul H Brookes Publishing. http://psycnet.apa.org/record/2005-15192-001

Sheridan, Susan. (April 2008).“Professional Development in Early Childhood Programs: Process Issues and Research Needs.” Early Education and Development. Retrieved November 2017. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10409280802582795

Successful coordination between preschool and kindergarten helps to lay the groundwork for a child’s positive school experience. If this transition does not go well, children can be turned off to learning and school at an early age. By aligning standards, curricula, instruction and assessments between preschool and kindergarten, children can experience a seamless pathway that sets them up for future success. Based on research and work with states, Education Commission of the States has identified two key elements that states can consider when creating a coordinated preschool-to-third grade system: effective transition programs and practices that help the child and family move smoothly and successfully from one learning setting to another.  Authentic alignment of the basic pedagogical components of early learning and kindergarten must exist to create continuous learning and teaching experiences.

In 1999, the Florida Legislature established School Readiness Coalitions across the state. The intent of the legislation was to insure all children had quality early childhood education experiences. However, the Coalitions only serve a small percentage of pre-K children and there is no requirement for these programs to coordinate with school districts to aide transition of children into the K-12 system. California, Georgia, Iowa, Massachusetts, and West Virginia have experienced increases in student achievement because of coordination between state funded Pre-K and K-12 systems.

 

Sources:

https://www.ecs.org/wp-content/uploads/Transitions-and-Alignment-From-Preschool-to-Kindergarten-1.pdf

https://www.naeyc.org/our-work/public-policy-advocacy/federal-and-state-agendas

https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/transitions/article/transition-kindergarten

http://www.readyfreddy.org/toolkits-guides/

https://www.gadoe.org/School-Improvement/Federal-Programs/Partnerships/Documents/Parent%20Engagement/Building-Cap/Kindergarten%20Transition%20Manual%20for%20Educators.pdf

https://www.elcbrevard.org/p/91/about-the-coalition