Florida Board of Education Meets to Discuss Standards, Struggling Schools

Courtney Williams's picture
Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Florida Board of Education got a glimpse of continued improvements at Miami Edison Senior High on Tuesday, just three months after board members decided to keep the struggling school and Miami Central Senior High open.

Board members and Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson heard an update from the two principals and Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.

Among the latest changes: increased dual enrollment courses, a slate of renegotiated bonuses for teachers at struggling schools, more teachers and volunteers with nonprofits Teach for America and City Year, the addition of a college summit and a focus on schools that feed into the high schools.

The school leaders cited evidence of progress, such as rising graduation rates.

“We know there is still a lot of work to do,” said Pablo Ortiz, principal of Miami Edison.

In other business, the board approved new learning standards for students participating in voluntary prekindergarten and set new passing scores for Florida teacher certification exams in a few subjects.

The board also discussed issues with the state’s class-size rules. Board Vice Chairman Roberto Martinez reported that some college-prep classes at his child’s Miami-Dade high school have more than 35 students. Martinez said there have been “unintended consequences” of changes in the class-size rules. Last year, the Legislature drastically reduced the number of courses subject to the limits.

“We need to, as a board, take a stance and recommend the Legislature put on the ballot making an amendment with respect to class size,” Martinez said.

Board member John Padget echoed his sentiments and said there is a need for more local flexibility.

Board Chairwoman Kathleen Shanahan asked for a resolution on class-size rules to be drafted and presented to the board in November.

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