Monday's Afternoon Update
What you need to know about Florida today.
FCAT writing scores plummet, preliminary data showsThis year, the FCAT test was made more difficult, and preliminary scores are showing just how difficult: Results show only 27 percent of 4th graders received a passing score of 4 or better compared to 81 percent last year. Scores are similar for 8th and 10th graders. Now the State Board of Education has scheduled an emergency conference call meeting for Tuesday to consider reducing the passing grade. More from AP.
» Orlando Sentinel: FCAT writing scores are a 'disaster'
» Palm Beach Post: Palm Beach County School Board blasts high-stakes testing
Strategies for getting the most out of business events
Survey: Florida’s real estate professionals find reasons to be optimistic
The Kelley A. Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies at UF’s Warrington College just released findings in their quarterly "Survey of Emerging Market Conditions."
"Positive outlooks for occupancy and rent growth along with an improving employment trend are increasing our respondents’ optimism about the real estate markets in Florida," said Timothy S. Becker, director of the Bergstrom Center.
The UF Commercial Real Estate Sentiment Index, a measure of the respondents’ own business outlook, reached its highest level since 2007. A total of 189 Florida professional real estate analysts and investors participated in the survey.
Full story at UF.
Hispanic-owned marketing agencies grow in size, scope
Alma and other leading Hispanic-owned marketing agencies in South Florida rank among the nation’s largest. They have grown in size and scope as corporate and institutional brands increasingly target the growing U.S. Hispanic population. Their creative output is far from monolingual. Many of the largest Hispanic-owned agencies in South Florida help advertisers connect with prospective customers in English and Spanish and other languages as well. More at the Miami Herald.
» CNC will hold its next biennial national conference Hispanics in America’s Future, May 17-18 in Miami.
How 'gamification' can work for your business
Occasionally in my columns I highlight emerging technologies that entrepreneurs should be aware of and consider for their operations. This week, I want to talk about 'gamification,' a new tool that has many neat applications for businesses. The word was coined in 2004 and, in 2010, became widely used. The basic idea is to apply gaming theory to business settings or environments, which means you first have to have an understanding of these attributes. Continued....
In Florida, registering voters is a whole new game
Six months before the presidential election, the Florida ground game is already under way. This year, there are tough new restrictions on groups that conduct voter registration drives. The restrictions already appear to be having an impact on the number of people who are registering to vote. "We go to dense Hispanic neighborhoods — shopping plazas, supermarkets," says Natalie Carlier of the National Council of La Raza, "and basically we're just out there talking to people, letting them know that we're providing a service and that we want them to vote."
More at NPR.
» Younger Cuban-American voters shift away from the GOP and toward an independent outlookAnd copy here
When Florida writer Cynthia started planning a Mother's Day outing in north Florida, she discovered their favorite family swimming spot "Five Holes" on the Suwannee River closed, the rope swings severed. Park officials gave numerous reasons, including stress on the river and danger to humans. Barnett writes:
It's just the sort of reasoned, multi-agency protection our groundwater, rivers and springs deserve. But as I set about finding a new Mother's Day adventure, the evidence that Florida's freshwaters aren't getting that protection was clear as the springs used to be. And I found myself wishing that the state might direct the same vigilance to utilities and agriculture --the two major users of freshwater in Florida -- as to river-loving families.
Read the full column at the Tampa Bay Times.