March, 2012
Weekly News
from PEN of Florida
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Teacher Evaluations Pose Test for States  By STEPHANIE BANCHERO


Efforts to revamp public education are increasingly focused on evaluating teachers using student test scores, but school districts nationwide are only beginning to deal with the practical challenges of implementing those changes.
Only an estimated 30% of classroom teachers in the U.S. work in grades or subjects covered by state standardized tests. Currently, most states test students only in math and reading in third through eighth grades and once in high school, as mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind law. Few states test students in other core subjects, such as science and social studies, and for many other subjects there is no testing at all.
Rolling out systemwide tests and devising ways to measure educator effectiveness require additional spending for states and districts, many already low on cash. And some parents and teachers complain that the effort has translated into more testing for children, taking away from classroom learning.

Read the rest of this Wall Street Journal Article  here.
Florida House OKs bill giving parents say on failing schools
By The Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE - Parents could "trigger" plans to turn around failing schools under a bill that has passed in the Florida House.

Those plans could include management by for-profit companies.

The roll call Thursday was 80-34 with Republicans in favor and most Democrats against. The bill (HB 1191) next goes to the Senate where a similar measure (SB 1718) is awaiting final committee action.

The bill, which is based on a similar law in California, would require school districts to implement a turnaround plan if a majority of a school's parents vote for it.

Opponents argued that private companies would be able to use gifts and other questionable tactics to persuade parents to trigger a turnaround plan.

Supporters contended it would encourage parents to become more engaged in their children's education.

Read more of this Tampa Bay Online article here.  

Fla. Senate sends education bill to Scott

A bill that would cut funding for Florida schools scoring below the state average on certain end-of-course tests is headed to Gov. Rick Scott.
That's just one provision in the wide-ranging education bill (HB 870), but it drew the most discussion Wednesday in the Senate before the measure passed 40-0.
It applies to tests in algebra I and biology I. It would not go into effect for another three years.
Some senators were worried schools will be punished despite making good faith efforts to bring their test scores up.
Sen. Don Gaetz, a Niceville Republican who is in line to become Senate president in November, promised to take steps to help those schools.
The bill also calls for more advanced courses and early high school graduation.

Read more of this Miami Herald article here.  
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