A daily round-up of education news and views for the Sunshine State
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Thursday, 14th October 2021




Nation's Report Card reveals dramatic declines

Math and reading scores for 13-year-olds have declined dramatically since 2012, the first major drops in the subjects since the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) began tracking long-term academic achievement trends in the 1970s. While average scores have improved significantly in reading and math for both age groups since the tests were first administered, with the greatest gains experienced by Black and Hispanic students, scores for 13-year-old students have declined in reading by 3 points and in math by 5 points since 2012. Scores for 9-year-olds remained unchanged. The latest NAEP tests, also known as the Nation's Report Card, were administered in the 2019-20 school year before the pandemic closed schools, so many experts expect further declines stemming from the pivot to online education that followed. "None of these results are impressive," laments Peggy Carr, the associate commissioner in the assessment division of the National Center for Education Statistics, which oversees the administration of the testing and the analysis of results.

US News and World Report  Washington Post 




Districts 'on notice' to comply with mask mandate rules

The State Board of Education has sent two Central Florida school boards a 48-hour notice to comply with Florida's mask mandate rules. According to letters, the State Board of Education found that Brevard and Orange County school boards did not comply with the Florida Department of Health Emergency Rule, which requires public schools to "allow for a parent or legal guardian of the student to opt the student out of wearing a face covering or mask at the parent of legal guardian's sole discretion." The board has two days to comply. If they do, no further action is needed the letter states. If they do not comply, the board must confirm the current annual compensation provided to all school board members and they will be penalized financially.

Florida Politics  Fox 35 Orlando 


St. Lucie teachers to receive paid COVID-19 leave if required to quarantine

Teachers in St. Lucie County will now receive 10 days of paid COVID-19 leave if required to quarantine by either the school district or the Florida Department of Health. The policy change comes after the recent decision allowing parents to choose if they want to quarantine children who are asymptomatic after close contact with a positive case. The minimum length for teachers required to stay home if deemed a close contact is 10 days.





Few school administrators not experiencing staffing shortages

More than three-quarters of district leaders and principals say they’re experiencing at least moderate staffing shortages in their school buildings this year, according to the newly published results of a nationally representative EdWeek Research Center survey. Fifteen percent said shortages are “very severe,” 25% said they’re “severe,” and another 37% classified staffing challenges as “moderate.” Just 5% of administrators said they aren’t experiencing any staffing shortages in their schools or districts this year. Another 18% said the shortages are “mild” or “very mild.” The shortages are most acute, according to the survey results, among substitute teachers, bus drivers, and instructional aides. Districts plagued by staffing shortages are taking a wide variety of approaches to addressing the issues; for example, 15% are offering recruitment bonuses. The most common tactic districts are employing is asking current employees to take on additional responsibilities. Roughly two-thirds of principals and district leaders say they’re taking that route.

Education Week 




Best-practice approaches for assessing students with disabilities

Limited time or resources shouldn’t prevent schools from conducting informal and formal assessments of students with disabilities, including those with significant cognitive disabilities, the National Center on Education Outcomes (NCEO) says in a new report. Not only can testing provide critical information on how to design instruction to combat pandemic-related learning loss, formally assessing students with disabilities is also a requirement of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, says NCEO director and report co-author Sheryl Lazarus. The NCEO has set out three approaches to measuring student performance during the pandemic and recovery, including: reviews of all students' individual education plans, to ensure they accurately reflect a student’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance; using formative assessments through the year to guide effective day-to-day instruction and learning; and to be more transparent in planning for testing, and the subsequent reporting of results. 

K-12 Dive 




Legislators look to enshrine ban on mask mandates into state law

Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, on Wednesday filed a proposal that would put into state law a ban on school districts requiring students to wear masks. The proposal (SB 452) would also would bar cities and counties from requiring people to wear masks or undergo medical procedures or treatments. It came a day after the Florida Department of Health announced it had imposed a $3.57m fine on Leon County for requiring government employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The bill is filed for consideration during the 2022 legislative session, which will start in January, and is in line with Gov. Ron DeSantis' high-profile attempts to prevent mask and vaccination mandates.





Bay County schools adding healthy new lunch options

Bay District Schools is introducing four new menu items for students for National School Lunch Week, at the end of which kids will receive a reward for trying all the lunches. While the new menu items are not permanent, students will vote for their favorites and least favorites to determine which meals will be part of future menus. Each meal meets state and federal guidelines and is approved by health regulations to ensure a healthy school lunch, school officials say.

News Herald 




College Board president discusses online exam deployment

College Board president Jeremy Singer explores how teachers worked to ensure the delivery of AP exams in a year when millions of students were cut off from their normal routines, and out of school buildings for weeks or months at a time. More than 2.5m students completed at least one exam this year (counting both digital and traditional formats), which is on par with a typical academic year. To help prepare for this year’s AP exams, the College Board bought and prepared more than 25,000 laptops to send to any student who needed one, ensuring device access was no barrier. "It would have been easy to simply cancel exams and wait for a return to normal, and there were some thoughtful voices in favor of scrapping AP exams this year," Mr. Singer said. "But it was students and teachers who overwhelmingly wanted to preserve the opportunity to test. More than 90% of students told us they wanted the chance to complete an exam, and I’m glad we listened to them."

K-12 Dive 

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