Both houses of the Florida Legislature are busily preparing for a historic session that will either see rare tax hikes (aka "revenue enhancements") or further cuts to state and local services. Hundreds of bills pertaining to education have been filed. Here are few worth noting:
This bill, filed by Rep. Fresen, would require Algebra I, Algebra II, Biology, and Chemistry or Physics for high school graduation. The bill would also require a grade level score on the 10th grade FCAT for high school graduation.
This bill, filed by Rep. Bullard, would eliminate administration of the FCAT in high school. Students would instead be required to take the PSAT/NMSQT and achieve a certain passing score as a requirement for high school graduation.
This bill, filed by Rep. Bullard, would Algebra I, Algebra II, Biology, and Chemistry or Physics for high school graduation. The bill would eliminate FCAT administration and replace it with subject area or end-of-course examinations, and modify the school grading system accordingly.
This bill, filed by Rep. Weatherford and endorsed by Commissioner Smith, would expand the current tax credit voucher program and require an annual study of the academic performance of students using the vouchers to attend private schools compared with similar students in public schools.
This bill, filed by 17 key senators, would offer voters a chance to modify the class size amendment so that class limits are based on a school average.
This bill, filed by Sen. Bullard, would eliminate a passing score on the 10th grade FCAT as requirement for high school graduation.
This bill, filled by Sen. Bennett, would propose a repeal of the Constitutional class size limits.
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ANALYSIS OF CHANGES IN TEACHER EVALUATION, COMPENSATION, REAPPOINTMENT, AND DISMISSAL
The Race to the Top grant program has accelerated the standards movement progress in changing systems of teacher evaluation, compensation, reappointment, and dismissal. A recent speech by Randi Weingarten, the President of the American Federation of Teachers, supported a new effort in streamlining the processes by which administrators dismiss teachers found to be ineffective. These efforts (along with the added pressure of Race to the Top) seem likely to lead to historic changes in how schools and school districts operate. National Journal invited a number of leading thinkers and stakeholders (including Deb Meier, Richard Rothstein, Monty Neill, and Diane Ravitch) to analyze these changes. Their comments are insightful.
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RACE TO THE TOP GRANT REVIEWERS SELECTED
A high-caliber slate of reviewers—apparently most of whom are K-12 professionals—has been selected to review the 41 Race to the Top proposals submitted in the first round of this historic grant program. Their comments (and their for-now-secret identities) will be revealed when the results are announced in April. This competition is unusual in nearly every way and not only for the enormous amount of funding to be awarded. In this competition, the Secretary will consider the scores of the expert reviewers, he will be authorized to make awards as he chooses.
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RUNNING THE NUMBERS
Florida's Race to the Top grant proposal was published at the U.S. Department of Education Web site (http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/phase1-applications/florida.pdf), but the PDF document there is strangely enormous—a poor scanning process has produced page dimensions of 35 inches by 45 inches! The scan is grainy and, sadly, not searchable. A much better, searchable PDF file is available at the Florida Department of Education Web site at http://www.fldoe.org/ARRA/RacetotheTop.asp. The proposal includes ambitious learning goals and a very large budget.
1. Percent of Florida 8th grade students with disabilities who currently score at the NAEP basic level in mathematics: 34
2. Percent Florida predicts will score this level after three years of RTTT implementation: 54
3. Percent of Florida students with disabilities who currently graduate from high school: 37.3
4. Percent Florida predicts will graduate after three years of RTTT implementation: 85
5. Number of new staff members FDOE will hire to administer RTTT: 6
6. Number of consultants FDOE will hire to advise districts on how to develop RTTT teacher and principal evaluations: 60
7. Estimated cost for these consultants, in millions of dollars: 14.98
8. Number of consultants FDOE will hire to advise districts on how to develop RTTT compensation systems: 63
9. Estimated cost for these consultants, in millions of dollars: 20.73
Source: Florida's Race to the Top grant proposal
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