- Gov. Ron DeSantis praised state educational action during the last school year, including keeping schools open and eliminating FSA testing
- DeSantis pointed to a recent Harvard study that insinuates remote learning may have detrimental long-term effects on young schoolchildren
- Florida faces a major teacher shortage approaching 10,000 vacancies
Gov. Ron DeSantis, while speaking at the Teacher of the Year conference, lauded the state’s educational approach to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the elimination of the Florida Statewide Assessment (FSA) in favor of progress monitoring.
While applauding the teachers selected as the state’s finest, DeSantis touched on in-school learning, referencing a recent Harvard study showing the harmful effects of extended remote learning on schoolchildren.
“There has now been in recent weeks, it seems, more of these blips talking about “Oh, the damage from school closures were way worse than anticipated.” No, it was fully anticipated what would happen,” remarked the governor. “In Florida, we understood. I was looking at these other states that never wanted the kids in school. Don’t tell me that remote education is a substitute.”
DeSantis notably and controversially committed to keeping schools open following hte first wave of pandemic shutdowns, much to the chagrin of a school district collective including some of Florida’s largest counties like Miami-Dade and Duval.
The governor also spoke on his elimination of FSA testing, a move that was celebrated by the overwhelming majority of teachers, students, and parents. The programs drew criticism after curriculums shifted to a focus on passing the end-of-year tests rather than thoroughly teaching the material. With the move away from standardized testing, Florida will become the first state in the nation to enact progress monitoring.
The measure reduces testing time by upwards of 75 percent, benefiting students and teachers alike. The diagnostic, child-specific monitoring allows for educators to track and receive real-time data reflecting the specific areas that a student may need remedial instruction on. The monitoring also allows students to receive feedback in the current school year, as opposed to the FSA method which oftentimes doesn’t provide testing results until the following summer break.
Overall school grades will be assessed based on the results yielded from progress monitoring checks, similarly to how FSA results presently factor into the administration of school grades, However, progress monitoring allows for regulatory bodies to have a more nuanced insight toward individual school performance, which would allow for a more accurate reflection in the grade a school receives.
For educational services, a round of $1,000 bonus checks for approximately 179,000 teachers and principals in Florida was confirmed, as well as $600 million for teacher pay.
An increase in per-student funding to reach $8,000 per student will be coupled with an elimination of the Florida Standards Assessment and its replacement with progress monitoring.
Thank you to @govrondesantis for stopping by Teacher of the Year to recognize Florida’s wonderful educators.
Our teachers are vital to Florida’s success and continue to make us the Education State! #EducationGovernor #FL74Strong @EducationFL pic.twitter.com/AGWzhFsYLT
— Manny Diaz Jr. (@SenMannyDiazJr) July 12, 2022
Florida does, however, face a looming major teacher shortage just weeks before the beginning of the next academic school year, quicky approaching 10,000 vacancies.
Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz Jr. during a webinar on Monday focused on the lack of professional development for teachers, recognizing the monetary and personal investment oftentimes needed to secure proper teaching credentials and certifications.
Diaz expressed interest in expanding “new teacher academies,” where high school students are introduced to the teaching profession in preparation for taking on education as a career. Several counties already host similarly-structured programs, though Diaz holds the ambition to include paraprofessionals and other school staff like substitute teachers within the program, opening a pipeline that allows a wider pool to train and put in the position of educators.
“We have future educator programs across the state. We’re looking at expanding those and creating that pipeline,” said Diaz. “One idea is to not only identify students who may go on to work in the teaching profession but also paraprofessionals. How do we get these folks into a pipeline and then provide mentor leadership teachers that can provide hands-on experience and training?”
Congratulations to the five teachers selected as the state’s Teacher of the Year: Melissa Anne Matz, Trinity Brooke Whittington, Jennifer Jaso, Deelah Jackson, and Seema Naik.