Duval schools youth risk behavior survey terminated by state
The Commissioner of Education sent a letter to the Duval Schools’ Superintendent, Dr. Diana Greene, “strongly urging” that the district needs to end its participation in a CDC youth-risk behavior survey (YRBS) and instead participate in a new one developed by the state.
Duval County leads state in number of schools considered ‘high-priority’
Duval County has more struggling schools than any other district in the Sunshine State, according to a Florida Department of Education report. The same report outlines the subject areas in which there exists a critical shortage of certified teachers, with English as the category projected to be in the direst need in the upcoming school year.
I-TEAM: Newly released documents reveal which items were flagged as Critical Race Theory in textbooks
The News4JAX I-TEAM is digging through thousands of documents just released by the Florida Department of Education. They reveal what textbook reviewers flagged as Critical Race Theory (CRT) and other prohibited topics which led to the rejection of 54 unpublished math books. Governor DeSantis has targeted Critical Race Theory -- saying the book authors are trying to ‘indoctrinate” Florida students.
FDOE reinstates more textbooks previously rejected over ‘prohibited’ content; questions remain over examples released
The Florida Department of Education has reinstated more math textbooks that were previously rejected because the state said they contained “prohibited” content such as critical race theory, social emotional learning and Common Core frameworks.
Florida’s education department reinstates 9 textbooks previously rejected over ‘prohibited’ content
The Florida Department of Education reinstated nine math textbooks that were previously rejected because the state said they contained “prohibited” content such as critical race theory, social emotional learning and Common Core frameworks.
Florida’s education department releases examples from math textbooks it says contained critical race theory
After math textbooks were recently rejected by the Florida Department of Education because it said they contain “prohibited topics” like critical race theory, the department has released examples of what was in those books.
Florida’s Education Dept. rejects 54 school textbooks for ‘prohibited topics’
In its review of 132 math textbooks that were submitted for consideration, the Florida Department of Education rejected 54, claiming they contain ‘prohibited topics’ such as critical race theory, social-emotional learning and Common Core frameworks.
As DeSantis pressures school districts on COVID-19 policy, Biden administration replaces withheld state funds
In its latest emergency rule issued Wednesday, the Florida Department of Education renewed pressure on local school boards to refrain from mandating face masks without a parental option to opt-out, something at least 10 school districts have done anyway.
County by county: How NE Florida school districts are reacting to state’s new quarantine policy
Florida’s newly appointed surgeon general on Wednesday signed new protocols allowing parents to decide whether their children should quarantine or stay in school if they are asymptomatic after being exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Alachua County vows to fight back after state withholds school board salaries over mask mandate
Alachua Schools Superintendent Dr. Carlee Simon said her board members “deserve praise, not penalties” for their “courageous decision” to defy an executive order from Gov. Ron DeSantis and implement a districtwide mask mandate.
Florida education department’s COVID-19 plan should be more aggressive, doctors say
A one-page information graphic outlining the Florida Department of Education’s recommendations on how school districts should combat COVID-19 was sent out to superintendents earlier this month, but it fails to include what medical experts conclude are the most effective mitigation strategies.
3rd-grade language arts FSA scores dip for local counties amid pandemic
The Florida Department of Education (FDOE) reported that 54% of third-grade students this year scored “satisfactory” or above on the state English-language arts exam, a 4 percentage-point decrease from 2019 when the exam was last administered.
Florida must focus on students’ progress after disruptive year, teachers union says
“We have to recognize that, although our teachers and staff in our schools have done amazing work, it’s not been without disruption,” Spar said. “Kids have been quarantined, teachers have been quarantined, staff has been quarantined, and that has created disruption.”“The big thing now is focusing on, how to we build and make sure that kids are getting everything that they need? Since it first arrived in Florida, the novel coronavirus has infected 80,682 students and staff associated with a school district, according to the FEA’s Safe Schools report. Overall, 146,793 kids in Florida who are school-aged (K-12) have tested positive for the virus since schools first reopened Aug. 10. The pandemic has claimed the lives of 40 Florida educators and nine school-aged children since schools reopened.
Bill would require Florida students to learn about pitfalls of communism
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Dozens of survivors of communist regimes flocked to the State Capitol on Thursday in a show of support for a bill that would bring stories like theirs into the classroom. Supporters expressed concerns that younger generations don’t understand the history of America’s founding principles and how they differ from communist ideology. But for dozens of survivors of communist regimes who brought their stories to the State Capitol, it’s personal. A survey by The Victims of Communism Foundation found one in three millennials have a favorable view of communism. A separate bill has been filed that would establish Victims of Communism Day as an official state holiday to commemorate the 100 million victims killed under communist regimes.
Some Florida teachers will get vaccine priority. School bus drivers want to be included
Cardona says the governor should allow school bus drivers and monitors to also be vaccinated at federal sites. Data on school bus drivers infected with COVID-19 is sparse. Some school districts, like Duval County, use third-party contractors who supply school bus drivers. Student Transportation of America, or STA, employs most school bus drivers for Duval County schools. Cardona says her union has fielded “numerous” calls from school bus drivers and monitors who reported testing positive for COVID-19.
Why there is no virtual PMA testing for Duval County students this year
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The third round of exams meant to track Duval County students’ progress begins Monday, but this one brings a major difference. Duval County Public Schools is not offering a virtual option this time around, despite allowing it for the first two PMAs. In Duval County, there are 17 schools that are currently in that program:Annie R Morgan Elementary SchoolArlington Elementary SchoolGeorge Washing Carver Elementary SchoolHighlands Middle SchoolJ.E.B. AdThe concern from many families continues to surround safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than one-in-five students in the district still engaged in its virtual learning formats. AdMore information about the FSAs and what options are afforded to parents can be found at the district’s website.
Some students, families concerned as in-person state testing looms
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For Duval County parents who have kept their students in virtual learning this school year, the upcoming Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) exams are causing concern as the district is not offering a virtual option. “The Florida Department of Education is requiring all students in grades six to 12 to take their Florida Standards Assessment, FSA, in state and the course exams, at a school location,” said a voicemail message sent to Duval County families whose students are enrolled in Duval Homeroom. “It just seems like, sometimes, our opinions are undervalued,” Sullivan said of parents of virtual learning students. While students were allowed to take this school year’s previous PMAs virtually, the message to parents was unclear as to whether the next one would offer that option. Meanwhile, in Tallahassee, some lawmakers have filed legislation to soften the financial impact that the state assessments could have on schools.
Florida schools graduation rate hits record-high after standardized tests waived
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida’s high school graduation rate hit a record-high of 90% in 2020. The Florida Department of Education said the graduation high is in part due to adjustments made during the coronavirus pandemic. The waived assessments propelled us in a direction we were already heading,” Duval County Schools Superintendent wrote in a statement. The Nassau County School District (91.6%) noted a 1.2% drop in the graduation rate since 2017-18 but still finished above the state’s average. See the results including all Florida high schools here.
State signs off on Duval, Clay school districts’ plans for spring reopening
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Education has signed off on the Duval County and Clay County school districts’ plans for spring reopening. Under the state’s COVID-19 emergency order, school districts have to continue offering in-person classes five days a week. The reopening plans allow the districts in Duval and Clay counties to continue receiving state COVID-19 relief funds. School districts in Nassau, St. Johns and Bradford counties have not had their plans approved yet. Click here for the list of approved plans.
Florida couple charged with stealing state trade secrets
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As many as 10,000 Florida teachers and principles are believed to have passed their certification exams using materials the federal government alleges were stolen from the state. Kathleen Jasper, 42, and her husband, Jeremy, 40, face 108 counts of wire fraud and three counts of stealing trade secrets, in this case the contents of the teacher certification exam and the executive leadership exam. He said the department has also worked to replace the questions at issue to preserve the integrity of teacher certification exams. “If the charged allegations are proven, stealing questions from Florida’s teacher certification exams and then profiting by selling live test questions, especially to unknowing educators, is despicable,” Corcoran said. He said the content his client is accused of stealing was already available on the state Department of Education’s website.
Families weigh learning options as school districts finalize plans for spring 2021
Here’s where they stand at last check:Duval County Public SchoolsDuval County families have until Friday to cancel Duval HomeRoom for the spring semester. As of Wednesday, Duval County Public Schools Spokeswoman Sonya Duke-Bolden said, 2,200 families have requested to opt out of Duval Homeroom for the third quarter. Also, as of Wednesday, 80,780 students were enrolled in brick and mortar classes, 27,203 in Duval HomeRoom and 1,481 were learning via Duval Virtual Instruction Academy. Duke-Bolden added that these numbers do not include charter school students. St. Johns County School DistrictThe St. Johns County School District told News4Jax a survey was sent to families with students participating in distance learning, asking about their intended second-semester learning option.
Economic advantage remains a factor in Florida student achievement
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A recent update to the Florida Department of Education’s website expands the publically accessible performance data on the state, district and school levels. State gap trend of economically disadvantaged and non-economically disadvantaged students (Florida Department of Education)Between 2015 and 2018, the percentage point gap for graduation rates shrank from 15.3 to 8.8. That trend is reflected in the numbers for many northeast Florida school districts. For instance, in northeast Florida, about 67% of Duval County students, 48% of Clay County students and 21% of St. Johns County students are considered to have that disadvantage. Much more information about school performance in Florida is available and the recently renovated data portal on the Florida Department of Education’s website.
Emergency order for schools not coming before Thanksgiving
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida’s education commissioner has said he hoped to have a new emergency order detailing how public schools would operate beginning in January before Thanksgiving arrived. But it looks like the order will be coming later than expected. “I would say I think the next emergency order is going to be a significant improvement based on our first 90, 100 days in school,” Corcoran said. And Corcoran said in the spring there will have to be greater efforts to intervene when online learning isn’t working for a student. A spokesperson for the Department of Education said the agency expects to have the updated emergency order issued before the end of the month.
Money to aid mental health services for children in Florida
The Florida Department of Education is making $2 million available to rural counties across the state to increase access to telehealth to provide mental-health services for schoolchildren. “I’m excited today to announce to 18 of the rural counties across the state of Florida we’ll be issuing $2 million to those rural districts to help students there increase access to tele- and mental-health services,” Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis said during a Monday news conference at the governor’s mansion. The money is available from federal CARES Act stimulus funding and will be directed to rural counties that have lower rates of internet connectivity and have limited access to health-care professionals. “The bridge that we have created with tele-mental health ensures that that door is opened that much more quickly.” Mayhew said. Monday’s announcement was lauded by Natalie Kelly, CEO of the Florida Association of Managing Entities.
Duval County 7th and 8th graders return to classrooms Monday
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More students will be back in Duval County classrooms Monday as the school district continues phasing out its hybrid learning model. Seventh and eighth graders will return to five days a week in-person education Monday after spending part of the first month of the school year doing virtual education. Sixth graders returned to full-time in the classroom last week and high school students go back on Sept. 28. Duval County said the phasing out of hybrid learning does not have any impact on students learning via Duval Homeroom or Duval Virtual Instruction Academy. IThis comes as DCPS added three new COVID-19 cases to its student body total on Saturday and one new confirmed case of the virus among its staff members.
All-virtual start to school year ‘unfeasible,’ DCPS board chairman says
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In response to demonstrations by teachers and parents on Monday near downtown Jacksonville, school board chairman Warren Jones told News4Jax he was briefly considering an effort to move all classes to virtual instruction for at least the first nine weeks of the fall semester. The chairman told News4Jax on Tuesday that he will not be following through with the request, citing “so many moving parts” as the reason the full-virtual strategy is not feasible. The school district has submitted its current reopening plan to the state and it is pending approval. Teachers and parents have been protesting the school district’s decision to go back to face-to-face instruction for part of the school week during demonstrations and public comment of school board meetings. It shows that coronavirus cases among kids in Duval County are up 62% in the last two weeks.
Duval School Board to vote on suspending safety drills during COVID-19
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. The Duval County School Board will consider a resolution Thursday that would ask the Florida Department of Education to waive the requirement that districts perform emergency drills for fires, natural disasters, active shooters, hostage situations and bomb threats. The COVID-19 pandemic is a monumental and unprecedented challenge, emerging quickly and demanding an immediate overhaul of instructional plans and school operations across the country, the resolution said. The stated purpose of the resolution is to prioritize the practice of social distancing. Florida Statutes require the district conduct emergency drills for fires, natural disasters, active shooter and hostage situations, and bomb threats, for all K-12 students and faculty at all public schools at least as often and other emergency drills, the resolution said. The special meeting is set to be held in the Cline Auditorium at the DCPS Administration Building.
Gov. DeSantis says having kids go back to school is right move
Ron DeSantis showed optimism, saying its a good idea and the children will be better off in school. The main thing is, Whats in it for the kids? DeSantis said. What harm is going to be done by continuing to keep them out of school? We know there are huge, huge costs for not providing in person school for our students, he said. There is significant cost not affording the opportunity for kids not having an in person education, DeSantis said.
Putnam County School District lists 3 options for reopening
PALATKA, Fla. Putnam County schools will be reopening in a month, and parents have a week to decide which option to enroll their student in for the fall. The district released three options for students Wednesday. The third option is Putnam Virtual School, which is what they did in the spring as an independent learning option. VIEW: Putnam County School Districts Student and Parent Guide for School ReopeningThe plan was released before the Florida Department of Education released its plan but it lines up with the states requests. The school board also said it will release the employee reopening plans with options for teachers.
Attorney: Florida education commissioner cant force schools to reopen
School districts across Florida are slightly deviating from an order to reopen schools for face-to-face instruction five days a week. The superintendent in Miami told CNN on Wednesday the district will not reopen schools until the beginning of Phase 2 in that area. Tallahassee attorney and the former legal counsel for the Florida School Boards Association said that under the Florida constitution, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran has no authority to force schools to reopen for in-person instruction. When we first saw the emergency order we thought it was an overreach by the commissioner of education, attorney Ronald Meyer said. Duval County Schools said it will be in a position to answer questions for parents and teachers next week.
Florida school reopening plans due in 3 weeks
K-12 Chancellor Jacob Oliva told school district officials that they need to submit reopening plans and agree to all of the points in Corcorans emergency order by July 31. For example, school districts need to assure the Florida Department of Education that they agree to reopen next month and that they will offer the full panoply of services required by law. School districts reopening plans need to include the percentage of students in the district who are projected to continue with distance learning, which schools began using following a statewide shutdown in March. Oliva said the reopening plans do not need to be approved by local school officials prior to being submitted to the state education department. The webinar came on the same day that President Donald Trump said he will be pressuring governors to reopen schools in the fall, even as COVID-19 cases spike in Florida and other parts of the country.
Florida education commissioner mandates all schools must reopen campuses in fall
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. The Florida Department of Education on Monday said all schools must provide families the option to have their students attend in-person classes five days a week. According to the plan, all school boards and charter school governing boards must open brick and mortar schools in August at least five days per week for all students, subject to advice and orders of the Florida Department of Health. Duval County Schools issued a statement about the order. We will be adapting our plans to ensure they are compliant with this state direction. Once we know what those modifications will be, we will be able to say more, a district spokesman said.
Florida drops Common Core standards in favor of new benchmarks
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s official: Common Core is no more in Florida. The Florida Department of Education announced on Friday that it’s scrapping the education standards, a polarizing set of milestones for student achievements in English language arts and mathematics. “Florida has officially eliminated Common Core,” Gov. “I truly think this is a great next step for students, teachers, and parents. Standards were made by Florida teachers for Florida students, and I know they will be a great model for the rest of the nation.”State Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, who supports the move, said the sweeping change allows Florida to escape “the confines of Common Core."
Mental health spending in schools could see an increase next year
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Department of Education is asking lawmakers to increase funding for mental health services, bringing the total up to $100 million in the coming year. But even with the $25 million increase, the state will still staff counselors below the nationally recommended average of one counselor for every 250 students. "We're close to between one to 400 to 500, which is a decrease over the last couple of years. We've added almost 500 to 600 school counselors statewide," said Jacob Oliva, the K-12 chancellor. The state DOE is also asking for $8 million to provide instant communication with police and other first responders for schools statewide.
State not tracking teachers with guns
Ron DeSantis, expanded the guardian program to allow classroom teachers to volunteer to participate in the program and carry guns on school grounds. Nearly all of the school districts -- Bay, Gilchrist, Lafayette, Levy, Okeechobee, Putnam and Suwanee -- open to allowing specially trained teachers with guns are in rural counties. "As you know, we currently do not have a list of districts choosing to allow teachers to participate in the guardian program." Allowing classroom teachers to participate in the program is a "decision made locally," Etters said. Under the guardian program, school districts that participate are eligible for grant money to help sheriffs conduct training for school personnel.
More money sought for school legal fights
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Department of Education is seeking more than $1 million in the upcoming fiscal year to cover mounting legal expenses, a $785,000 increase over what it received for the current year. This spring, lawmakers agreed to give the department $250,000 to pay for ongoing and potential future litigation against state education policies. In their budget request for the 2020-2021 fiscal year, education officials said the money is needed to help with costs tied to four separate lawsuits. In the coming months, the department also could face a court battle about a newly created vouchers program, known as the Family Empowerment Scholarship Program. Organizations such as Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Southern Poverty Law Center argue the scholarship program is unconstitutional.
Education board proposes status quo spending on teacher bonuses
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida Department of Education officials latest budget proposal does not include any additional funding for a controversial teacher bonus program, which is currently facing a legal challenge. The funding proposal comes a month after lawyers slapped the state with a lawsuit alleging education officials improperly allowed school districts to deduct employer taxes from employees promised bonuses. Lawyers with the law firm Morgan & Morgan claim state officials shortchanged high-performing teachers and principals out of tens of thousands of dollars. Funding for the bonus program was tucked in the state agencys newly released budget request, which the Board of Education unanimously approved Wednesday. The budget proposal, which outlines the priorities of state education officials, calls on legislators to boost spending for mental health services and school security.
Education officials want schools to teach about child trafficking
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida students in grades K-12 would be taught about child-trafficking prevention, under a rule proposed by state education officials. The intent of the rule is to have every school in Florida be a child trafficking free zone, according to the proposed regulation published by the Florida Department of Education Tuesday. Under the proposed rule, all public schools would be required to have a plan in place for teaching students about child trafficking. The state would then require school districts to report individual plans to the Department of Education every year by Dec. 1. Under the proposed rule, school districts that fail to comply with the new mandate could be sanctioned.
Education officials eye school safety, mental health
Addressing mental health issues and hardening schools have been two high-profile education issues in the wake of last years mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. With that in mind, Florida Department of Education officials have proposed policy changes to address those two issues. State education leaders also want to make policy changes aimed at boosting the pool of mental health professionals that can work in schools. Judd applauded the move to expand access to mental health treatment for students. Thats why we need the mental health counselors, Judd said.
State to track school districts with guardian' teachers
Ron DeSantis signed an expansion of the controversial school guardian program, state officials have not tracked how many school districts will allow classroom teachers to be armed. We do not currently have a list of school districts who are choosing to arm teachers. Lawmakers in 2018 created the guardian program, which initially was limited to school employees whose main duties were outside the classroom. The Department of Education updates a list of school districts that have decided to implement the guardian program, with 34 of the states 67 districts now participating. The expansion of the guardian program was part of a bill signed May 8 by DeSantis that included an array of school-safety measures.
Lawsuit accuses Florida of shortchanging teachers on bonuses
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The Florida Department of Education is being sued over allegations it shortchanged teachers when it paid bonuses awarded by the Legislature, costing the state's best educators hundreds of dollars each. Thousands rated "highly effective" and who met other criteria received bonuses of $6,000 or $1,200 during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years. The lawsuit, filed by the Morgan & Morgan law firm, says the state can't legally push its tax obligation onto teachers. The lawsuit alleges that the state illegally saved millions by having teachers pay the full amount. Fedrick Ingram, president of the Florida Education Association, the state teachers union, applauded the lawsuit, saying in a statement "that bonus schemes do not work" and that DeSantis and the Legislature should "commit to investing in educator salaries."
Company to get $1.3 million for school safety tool
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Department of Education will pay nearly $1.3 million to a company that will revise a tool used by all public schools to identify threats and vulnerabilities on campuses. After the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, lawmakers required all school districts to complete school security risk assessments for the tool for all public schools, including charter schools. Those assessments were required to include information like a schools physical security measures, school security and operational practices, as well as crisis preparedness plans. According to a notice posted last week by the state agency, there was not a competitive bidding process for Haystax Technology to get the nearly $1.3 million contract. The agency said it picked to the company to revise the tool because the company had already gone through a competitive vetting process and was picked to develop and construct the tool.
State wants to move quickly on school misconduct
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Department of Education wants school districts to quickly report complaints about potential misconduct by school personnel to help expedite investigations that could lead to employees removal. The department on Tuesday announced it is developing a rule that would mandate quick reporting by school districts on allegations of misconduct that affect the health, safety or welfare of a student.The rule also seeks to clarify the type of alleged misconduct that would require expeditious reporting.Part of the reason the department is proposing this rule is to have Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran exercise his authority to recommend removal of school district personnel from direct student contact.Since 2010, the department has been required to investigate and take appropriate action on complaints even when accusers have withdrawn complaints or indicated a desire to not have cases investigated anymore. If alleged misconduct affects the welfare of a student, state law says the commissioner can request the immediate suspension of personnel from their regularly assigned duties, with pay. The commissioner can also reassign employees to positions that do not require direct contact with students. News Service of Florida
Duval County's state test results show signs of improvement
PixabayJACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Newly released statewide standardized testing results are a mixed bag for Duval County Public Schools. The results, released Friday by the Florida Department of Education, show signs of improvement for the school district in 11 of 21 tested categories. By far, the districts biggest success story was sixth grade mathematics where students scores were nine points higher than last years. In sixth grade mathematics, 51 percent of students received test scores at Level 3 or above in 2019, trailing the statewide average by four points. Aside from that and civics, seven other test areas suffered, including fifth grade math and reading, seventh grade math, eighth grading reading and science, and tenth grade reading and algebra.