Florida schools roundup: Mixed testing results, new rules for schools and more

florida-roundup-logoMath, science testing: Florida eighth-graders have improved their performance in math and science testing since 2011, but still rank below students around the United States, according to a survey of 20,000 students worldwide by Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study. Fourth-graders in Florida performed about as well as their U.S. peers. Orlando Sentinel.

New rules for schools: The Obama administration releases final rules on how to measure schools. Standardized tests will continue to be used, but districts may also consider other factors, and compliance is pushed back a year, to the 2018-2019 school year. The practical effect of the change is unclear, with President-elect Donald Trump expected to make wholesale changes to the education system. Washington Post. Associated Press.

Voucher expansion: Rep. Michael Bileca, R-Miami, the new chairman of education policy for the Florida House, says he wants to expand the availability of vouchers for students with disabilities. Almost 6,000 students with various disabilities now use Gardiner Scholarships. Politico Florida.

Contract agreement: The Brevard County teachers union reaches a contract agreement with the school district that calls for an average raise of 1.8 percent. The deal allots a $581 raise for teachers rated highly effective, $475 for those rated effective and $185 for all others. Teachers will vote on the proposed agreement Dec. 9, and the school board will consider it on Dec. 13. Florida Today.

Teachers drop out: More than 10 percent of the teachers who were hired last summer to teach at struggling elementary schools in Pinellas County have already left their jobs. That’s 16 of the 114 teachers hired for the so-called “transformation” schools. Gradebook.

Superintendent finalists: A search committee recommends five finalists for the job of Lake County school superintendent. They are: Bob Anderson, deputy superintendent at Fulton County Schools in Atlanta; Quintin Shepherd, superintendent of the Linn-Mar Community School District in Marion, Iowa; Jerry Wilson, superintendent of Worcester County Public Schools in Berlin, Md.; Mark Mullin, deputy superintendent at the Brevard County School District; and Diane Kornegay, deputy superintendent at the Clay County School District. Current superintendent Susan Moxley retires in July. Daily Commercial.

Reorganization plan: Pasco County School Superintendent Kurt Browning is considering a reorganization of the way the district is set up, just four years after he set up an approach of area superintendents and support specialists for each of four regions. Tampa Bay Times.

Protesting DeVos: Some teachers in Florida are organizing protests against the selection of Betsy DeVos as Donald Trump’s secretary of education. DeVos is a school choice advocate. Protesters point to DeVos not having an education degree or any experience teaching, and that her children never attended a public school. Sunshine State News.

Bill on tiebreaker: A bill is filed in the Legislature that would strip the Duval County School Board chairperson of the power to cast the deciding vote on an issue that ends in a tie vote. The bill would provide a very specific amendment to a 2006 law that allows the chair of school boards in large Florida counties to cast the deciding vote in case of a tie. Florida Politics.

Truancy prevention: The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice is asking the Legislature for an extra $500,000 to establish a school truancy prevention program in Gadsden County. WFSU.

Teacher arrested: A seventh-grade reading teacher at Eisenhower Middle School is arrested and accused of molesting an 8-year-old girl two years ago. Amett Jared Santiago, 26, was not a teacher at the time of the incident. Santiago has resigned. Tampa Bay Times. WFLA.

Lesser sentence sought: A former Polk County teacher is in court today, asking for a reduction in her 22-year prison sentence for having sex with at least three students. Jennifer Fichter will argue the students were willing participants and that she needs to be out of prison to seek the appropriate treatment. WFLA.

School vandalized: Palmetto Ridge High School is vandalized over the Thanksgiving break. Several political and religious messages were spray-painted on walls in the Golden Gate Estates school. Naples Daily News.

Opinions on schools: Miami-Dade school officials are working to make disciplinary actions beneficial for students instead of punitive by eliminating out-of-school suspensions. Valtena G. Brown, Miami Herald. Jeb Bush and school choice advocates have to be happy with President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for education secretary. Joe Henderson, Florida Politics.

Student enrichment: Twenty-three students in the choir from S.D. Spady Elementary School in Delray Beach will sing with the National Honor Choir at Carnegie Hall in New York City in April. Sun-Sentinel. An additional dental team is now providing oral care to students at Title 1 schools in Volusia County. The services are provided by the county’s Department of Health. Daytona Beach News-Journal.