Celebrate Florida College System Month

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Randy Hanna

Chancellor of the Florida College System

Florida Department of Education

April is national community college month, and here in Florida, we’re celebrating the impact the 28 institutions in the Florida College System have on students, families, communities and the state.

I was a first generation college student from rural Gadsden County. The Florida College System was designed for students like me to be able to access high-quality education and job training at affordable prices.

I know first-hand the iImagempact going to college can have on someone’s life. And I’m proud to represent the nation’s best college system.

Our system is comprised of 28 colleges, community colleges and state colleges with locations all across the state. Colleges offer a variety of programs, including
certificates, associate degrees and, in some cases, bachelor’s degrees. They have an open-door admissions policy, meaning anyone with a high school diploma (or its equivalent) can enter. And our 2+2 system guarantees Associate in Arts graduates admission to upper-division at state universities or colleges offering bachelor’s degree programs.

But it doesn’t stop there. Our colleges are committed to ensuring that students succeed. Fifty-four percent of juniors and seniors in the State University System are Florida College System transfers. Almost 82 percent of our graduates are employed or continuing education within one year of graduation. The average starting salary is $46,186. And 93 percent of our graduates remain in Florida to work, ready to fill the needs of local business and industry.

I believe the state has a responsibility to help Floridians succeed in college and careers. As we celebrate Florida College System Month throughout April, I encourage you to visit our website for more information about how our colleges are fulfilling their mission to improve lives through education.

Commissioner Robinson talks about updates on FCAT 2.0 and End-of-Course exams


Commissioner Robinson’s recent media briefing about FCAT 2.0 and End-of-Course Exams. Includes a Q&A with the media.

Also check out the commissioner’s radio interviews on FCAT 2.0 and End-of-Course Exams on WJCT and WFLA

More info can be found on our FCAT site.

 
 

Curling up with a good book


 
First Lady Ann Scott shares a special holiday message and reads passage from Polar Express

What are your plans for the holiday break? Visiting with family, eating good food, playing games, and celebrating the holidays are on my list, but I also plan to curl up with a good book.

Days off from school and work are great times to read books by yourself and with your family. We have a great list of books for children on our Holiday Reading List. Do you see any of your favorites on there? What other holiday books do you enjoy reading?

Happy holidays!

Providing Services to All Floridians: A first-hand encounter

Guest post by Rep. Betty Reed, Ranking Democratic Member of the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee in the Florida House of Representatives

Even as we continue to tighten our belts, there are many projects the Legislature always tries to approve. One of these areas includes persons with visual impairments.

I had the pleasure last week to visit the DOE Division of Blind Service’s Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the Bureau of Braille and Talking Books Library, and the Conklin Center for the Blind.

At the Center, I visited the Independent Living, Technology, Business Enterprise, and Orientation and Mobility classes. The students were engaged, accomplished, and driven to succeed not only personally, but also professionally. Many are well on their way to starting their own businesses and the majority are self-sufficient. 

I had heard much about the Bureau of Braille and Talking Books Library and was excited to see the studio and live book recordings first-hand. The resources were expansive, with more than 2.4 million items in Braille and auto format. And the facility is well-used, providing services to almost 32,000 Floridians who cannot used standard print reading materials as a result of visual, physical or reading disability.

My last stop at the Conklin Center for the Blind, a facility that DOE’s Division of Blind Services works closely with, also made a positive impression on me. The Center provides services to visually impaired or blind Adults ages 18 and above. 

The trip strongly confirmed my support of DOE’s efforts to provide services to all Floridians. I was impressed by the valuable services they provide and will continue to support them through my work in the Legislature.

Have you or any of your friends or family members ever used any of these services and/or facilities?

Tomorrow the Higher Education Coordinating Council, which I am a member of, will meet to discuss the fifth draft of our recommendations to the legislature. In preparation for the meeting, I welcome your feedback in the comment section below, or feel free to contact me personally at betty.reed@myfloridahouse.gov.

Getting to a 98 percent passing rate

Guest post by DOE Director of Faith and Community Outreach Joyce Hobson

You always hear a lot about how parents should be involved with their children’s education, but how do you measure the effectiveness of involvement?

Tired of sitting in formal, tense parent-teacher conferences, Ms. Donna Harla of Landmark Middle School in Duval County has figured out one way.

Through the Parent Collaboration Program she created, teachers designate 30 minutes every Friday for parents to stop by the classroom. The initiative avoids lengthy scheduling processes between parents, teachers and administrators and increases parents’ access to their child’s education, which allows relationships to build.

Since the initiation of the program in 2008, she has seen a 98 percent passing rate amongst her students.

This is just one of the many efforts going on around the state to increase the communication between parents and teachers. It is the little things – knowing what is going on at the schools, talking about homework policies and lesson plans, meeting other students and teachers in the school, becoming a familiar face – that break down communication barriers.

Does your student’s school have any parental involvement programs? Do you volunteer in your child’s class or attend events? How do you show your support for your student? Please feel free to share!

Students’ Return on Investment

The Department of Education serves as a data repository for a variety of information allowing us to track student performance across time and in varying education sectors. Starting this month, the Department will embark upon a joint project with the Florida Council of 100 to determine the state’s return on investment for students attending various postsecondary educational institutions. The goal of this project is to track graduates of Florida’s public schools as they transition from colleges and universities into the workforce. The data analysis will examine the various jobs and wages these students obtain and compare them with the state’s costs of providing those same students with the postsecondary training and education they received within our education system. This unique opportunity will pull from existing data sources including the Department’s Education Data Warehouse as well as the Florida Education and Training Placement Information Program (FETPIP).

Giving Florida students an edge in the global economy

Guest post by DOE Educational Policy Development Director Lydia Southwell

In today’s marketplace, we are not just working with and competing with the person next to us, we are a part of a global economy and need to ensure our students are prepared for the challenge.

As we celebrate International Education Week this year, it is a good opportunity to reflect and promote the importance of “Inspiring Students Locally to Succeed Globally,” the theme for this year’s celebration.

So what is Florida doing to prepare its students?

Many Florida school districts offer dual language programs, which means part of the school day is taught in another language.

Some districts also offer special exchange programs, such as Palm Beach County’s relationship with the Ministry of Education and Science of the Kingdom of Spain. The effort allows some Florida teachers to teach in Spain and some Spanish teachers to teach in Florida. The experience is beneficial for both the students and the teachers. The district’s students also have the opportunity to hold live online chat sessions with Spanish students.

Colleges and universities throughout the state also offer study abroad programs that are extremely beneficial in two ways:

  1. When American students study in other nations they learn more than what is in their syllabi, they learn the culture, something that cannot be taught in a classroom.
  2. International education is a vital service industry, bringing more than $20 billion into our country in 2009-10. According to Open Doors, 260,327 U.S. students studied abroad in 2008-09, and 690,923 international students from more than 200 countries studied in the U.S. in 2009-10.

But we are not stopping there.

Before full implementation of the Common Core State Standards, Florida is gathering information about how our students compare internationally in reading, mathematics and science. We are participating in Trends in the International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), and the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).  Adjustments to Florida standards will be made based on the results of these studies.

Do your children participate in dual language or study abroad programs? What has their experience been?