Gov. DeSantis announces plan to end Florida Standards Assessments
The days of preparing and sitting for hours’ worth of spring state tests could be nearing an end for many of Florida’s public school students. Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday called on lawmakers to revamp the state’s school accountability system by eliminating several of the annual exams and replacing them with shorter “progress monitoring” tests, which are tailored to individual students and already given throughout the school year. More from the News Service of Florida, the Times and Click Orlando.
Florida universities rise in annual rankings
Florida universities on Monday heralded their advancement in a national ranking of public universities, but none celebrated harder than the University of Florida after cracking the top five on U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges” for the first time. The Florida school landed in fifth place, in a three-way tie with the University of California, Santa Barbara and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The annual grades lend prestige to schools that achieve top placement. [Source: News Service of Florida]
Bus driver shortage leaves some Florida students waiting for hours
A shortage of school bus drivers has created chaos this school year, as some students have waited hours for buses that were so packed, the only place to sit was on the floor, Many drivers are now working extra hours and picking up twice as many kids as their normal load to pick up the slack. Mechanics, transportation managers and anyone with a commercial driver’s license are being asked to fill in. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
U.S. Education Department opens civil rights inquiry into Florida school masks policy
The U.S. Education Department announced Friday that it is opening an investigation to the Florida Department of Education for potentially violating the rights of students with disabilities by preventing school districts from requiring masks. The department's Office for Civil Rights is leading the probe, a spokesperson said in a statement. The spokesperson said Florida "may be preventing school districts in the state from considering or meeting the needs of students with disabilities" as a result of the state's hardline mask policy, which requires school districts to allow parents or legal guardians to opt their child out of Covid mask mandates. [Source: NBC News]
The bill calls for lawmakers to place a proposed constitutional amendment on the November 2022 ballot asking voters if they want state education commissioner to be elected beginning in 2026 and added to the Florida Cabinet. Under the 1968 Florida Constitution revision, the education commissioner was an elected position and sat on the Governor’s Cabinet. A 1998 constitutional amendment reorganized the DOE, created the BOE and made the education commission an appointed post beginning January 2003. [Source: The Center Square]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Billions in COVID relief money intended for Florida schools sitting in Tallahassee [Click Orlando]
The State of Florida currently has billions of dollars earmarked to help local school districts through the pandemic that has not been dispersed. Since March of 2020, the U.S. Department of Education has awarded Florida with $8.6 billion in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds (ESSER). Updated numbers released the week of Sept. 6 show the Florida Department of Education has dispersed $1.1 billion, leaving $7.4 billion sitting in Tallahassee.
› FSU launches Journal of Postsecondary Student Success [FSu News]
At Florida State University, student success means success for all — including achieving equity for students of different backgrounds. Now, as part of the university’s ongoing commitment to student success, Florida State has launched the Journal of Postsecondary Student Success (JPSS), a quarterly, open-access, interdisciplinary journal that publishes peer-reviewed research, editorials and practitioner reports related to student success in higher education.
› Florida Prepaid rewards early college savers, urges families to claim $200K in refunds [CBS Miami]
Families looking to enroll their children in this year’s Florida Prepaid College Plan will have their $50 application fee waived until October 31 as a reward for enrolling early. By submitting early, families will then be automatically enrolled when open enrollment starts February 1, 2022. They can also change their plan type or cancel, if needed once open enrollment begins in February.
› How did 9/11 change the classroom? Miami teachers reflect on how they’ve adapted [Miami Herald]
Teachers are now reflecting on how their classrooms and teaching have changed in the 20 years since 9/11. Since then, schools have become increasingly vulnerable to acts of violence on campus and around the community. Elementary, middle and high schools have improved security, adopted locked-door policies, introduced active-shooter drills and require students to wear IDs.