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?


Giving students a voice

They are our future, so shouldn’t they have a say in how their futures are built? Children’s Week, an annual celebration taking place this year from Jan. 29 – Feb. 3, supported by more than 100 organizations, is giving students a voice in everything from early childhood education to substance abuse treatment through its “Teens Only” Town Hall Meeting.

The meeting gives teens the opportunity to ask questions of government officials, policy makers, children’s developmental professionals and advocacy experts that are a part of the 20-member Florida Children and Youth Cabinet.

But there’s more! The students’ voice doesn’t end there.

As of last year, students selected for the “Teens Only” Town Hall Meeting are official members of the 12-student Youth Commission for the state of Florida! This Commission represents youth across the state and act as an advisory body to the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet. A Commission representative attends all Cabinet meetings and provides updates to the Cabinet on current issues facing Florida’s youth.

We encourage ALL students across the state from ages 13-18 to apply to be a part of this great opportunity. The nomination deadline is quickly approaching, so please be sure to get your application in by Nov. 18!

Serving those who served us

Guest post by Joyce Hildreth, DOE Division of Blind Services Director

There are so many ways United States military veterans have given their time, energy and resources for the country and our freedoms. The Florida Department of Education Division of Blind Services (DBS) is honored to be able to offer assistance to these veterans through a variety of our programs. 

Here are a few of their stories: 

Ernest Creech is a visually impaired Army veteran who has received Independent Living assistance, including mobility training, and a specially outfitted computer from DBS. He currently is an undergraduate at Atlantic Technical Institute in Ft. Lauderdale, where he is pursuing a bachelor’s degree as a Biomedical Maintenance Tech. Upon graduation, he hopes to find employment in a hospital setting. Currently, he is doing very well academically.

 

Video about DBS Independent Living services

Llars Copeland, also a visually impaired Army veteran, was injured in the line of service. The Department of Management Services has provided him with a computer and adaptive equipment. In addition, he has participated in the Independent Living Assistance program and Employer Services program. A law enforcement dog trainer for more than 20 years, he has returned to college and is majoring in family counseling, as he wishes to assist troubled youth and their families. He is active in his community and teaches music, keyboard and guitar to children in lower-income neighborhoods.


Video about DBS Vocational Rehabilitation services, including employment

Daniel Archer, a visually impaired Air Force veteran, participates in the DBS Business Enterprise Services program. The program recently helped him set up his own business servicing vending machines by providing a computer for his inventory operations, training on best management practices and guidance on how to repair machines. His company, Daniel Archer Enterprises, was licensed at the end of August and is thriving.


Video about DBS Business Enterprise Program

These veterans are lively, highly contributing members of their communities.

For more information about what DBS offers, visit http://dbs.myflorida.com. You’ll find details about everything from a talking book library to transition services.

Are you or someone you know a current or previous client of DBS’s resources? If so, how was your experience? If you or someone you know is visually impaired and have not accessed our services, do you think we could provide you with any help?

 

Commissioner talks teacher evaluations, charter schools and more with Orlando Sentinel

Commissioner Robinson sat down with members of the Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board to discuss education issues, including teacher evaluations, charter schools and a variety of other topics. Check out the video for footage of the meeting.

Making it easy for military families

Guest post by Michael Kooi, executive director of Florida’s Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice

Florida is one of the states that adopted the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children (MIC3), which helps children of active-duty members with eligibility, enrollment, placement and graduation requirements.

With Florida’s numerous education options, we are happy to be able to provide many educational choices to meet military families’ needs – all covered under the Compact.

For example, say an active duty family relocates to another base and their two teenage children were taking Advanced Placement (AP) classes at their local public high school. In their new location, the students will have preference enrolling in the same AP classes at their new school, pending availability.

Because the Compact is nationwide, it accommodates active military families moving from Texas to Florida just the same as it applies to a family moving from Tampa to Jacksonville.

Have questions about this option? On November 16, families will have a chance to talk to state and district school choice experts in a one-on-one setting at the Florida School Choice Expo “Carousel of Choice.” If you can’t make the event, you can also find more information at www.floridaschoolchoice.org.

Have you ever taken advantage of the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children? If so, what school option did you choose? Share with us your transition experience.