Florida Department Of Education

Ann Arbor District Library / Flickr

The Florida State Board of Education approved tougher requirements for students who use alternative tests to meet graduation requirements at its meeting Wednesday.

Lindsey Kilbride / WJCT News

UPDATED: The Duval School Board voted 6-1 in favor of  creating a new position called a School Safety Assistant. Board member Ashley Smith Juarez was the only "no" vote.

The board also unanimously passed a resolution against a plan the state Board of Education is expected to vote on this month.

bubble test
Tim Lewis / Flickr

A study has found the state's new standardized test for public-school students is valid, paving the way for the exam to be used in teacher evaluations and school grades, the Florida Department of Education announced Tuesday.

But critics said the controversial Florida Standards Assessment is still deeply flawed, and that the report is not as flattering as the department is portraying it. Lawmakers required the report in legislation passed this spring, following a slew of technical problems and a cyberattack on a computer platform.

Florida Department of Education

The State Board of Education decided Wednesday to once again ask lawmakers for record per-student funding for public schools — with the lion's share of the increase coming from local taxpayers.

Board members unanimously approved a budget request of nearly $20.2 billion for the main funding formula for public elementary and secondary schools in the fiscal year that begins next July 1. That would set a new benchmark for total funding, up from this year's $19.7 billion, as well as marking the highest per-student amount in state history.

bubble test
Tim Lewis / Flickr

  State officials announced Monday they were investigating a cyber-attack against Florida's online-testing program for public schools, while the House Education Committee approved its version of legislation meant to scale back the amount of time students spend on exams.

When lawmakers return to Tallahassee in March for the annual legislative session, they have a lot of questions they need to answer about public school testing.

Senators laid out their concerns about the state testing system last week at a series of meetings.

They don’t know how many tests the state requires or how long it takes to complete those exams.

They don’t know how much the state and school districts spend on testing.

And they’re not convinced they can depend on all the results of those exams.

The Florida Department of Education has announced plans to review the state’s standardized testing.  The move comes after a year of criticism for testing policies, and continued opposition to new learning standards.

This Spring Florida students will face a new statewide exam that replaces the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. Students will take end-of-course exams in every grade and most subjects.

“I believe you should have accountability," Senate President Andy Gardiner recently told reporters."  I think there should be testing.  I think the jury is still out on overtesting.”

Some school districts have passed resolutions against standardized testing and some parent groups are pushing for the chance to opt their children out of some exams. The department of education says its review of standardized testing is meant to show parents how the tests are used, and to find quote “deregulation opportunities for the school system.”

Florida Department of Education Commissioner Pam Stewart says there are no plans to pause the end-of-course exams or the Florida Standards Assessment, which will start in the Spring.

During his campaign, Governor Rick Scott promised a review on standardized testing.

DOE is accepting applications for its review committee. The department says the committee will have its first meeting in March.

This year, nearly half of Duval County public elementary schools will add an extra hour of reading to their day. Most of these schools are required to do so by state law. But some are not.

Under a revised statute, the 300 lowest-performing schools in the state must add an hour of reading instruction to their schedule next year.  The law is an expansion of a previous law requiring only the 100 lowest performing schools to add an extra hour.

Duval County Public Schools

Duval County Public Schools faces about $1.3 million less in class-size penalties this year than last year.

Duval County Public Schools

The results of a state investigation into Duval County Public Schools' Exceptional Student Education (ESE) program show the district in violation of some federal special education laws.

Duval County Public Schools / Facebook

A local school is under investigation by the Florida Department of Education following a complaint that it violated federal and state special education laws.  

Florida Department of Education

By now, many Florida residents are fairly acquainted with the controversial teacher scoring formula known as the value-added model or VAM.

Patrick Donges / WJCT

The Florida Times-Union won a major victory Monday in a year-long battle over the release of the state’s teacher scores.

Florida Department of Education

The Florida Times-Union won a major victory Monday in a year-long battle over the release of the state’s teacher scores.

Wikimedia Commons

The Florida Department of has released preliminary results of each school district’s personnel ratings.

The data was provided by the districts and shows how many classroom teachers, instructional personnel and administrators are considered by their bosses to be effective.

Evaluations vary widely from district to district. Clay County rated 70.5 percent of its teachers as highly effective and Duval gave the highest marks to only 10.7 percent of teachers. St. Johns County found 43.8 percent of teachers to be highly effective.

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