New education org seeks to empower Florida ed leaders, close equity gap

by | Feb 28, 2019

A newly formed education group, calling itself Impact Florida, launched today with an education summit featuring big names in Florida’s education world, including 2019 teacher of the year Joy Prescott, Florida’s Chancellor of Public Schools, Jacob Oliva, and David Steiner, Executive Director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy, among others.

The group pledges to use a data-driven approach to promote high-quality instruction in schools, empower education leaders by giving them the tools to share teaching tactics that work with other educators and institutions.

The summit, hosted in Orlando, is called “Bridging the Opportunity Gap in Classrooms,” and will run through Friday afternoon. More than 135 people from 13 school districts and 20 education organizations are attending. These school districts represent over 1 million students in Florida — 42 percent of the total student population.

“What happens in the classroom is at the heart of our vision,” said Mandy Clark, Executive Director of Impact Florida. “We have tremendous respect for the effort students and teachers put in day in and day out. We want to help leaders know how to best support teachers in every Florida classroom, every day, to ensure students receive instruction that prepares them to succeed in life after their K-12 career.”

Simultaneous with the launch, the groups released its first “Case for Impact,” a study which lays out compelling research and identifies “Five Conditions That Support Great Teaching.” According to a press release put out by the group, “the study is the first of a series of resources Impact Florida plans to offer to point partners and leaders to best practices in realizing excellent instruction, scaling it, and closing opportunity gaps.”

Impact Florida collected data from more than 900 Florida educators, principals, and superintendents in December 2018. The group says that the majority of respondents identified “student equity in education” as the most important thing for advocates to focus on this year. According to the release, 87 percent of respondents agreed that advocacy, action, and the effective use of data can improve the quality of education.

Additional survey findings included in Impact Florida’s press release:

  • 70 percent of respondents agree that some long-utilized methods of instruction have widened outcome gaps among students. Most educators (79 percent) agree that all students, regardless of race and socioeconomic status, can achieve educational success if they are provided great teaching.
  • 69 percent of respondents felt student outcomes could be improved if education leaders focused on strengthening teaching practices. Yet only 54 percent of respondents felt leaders know how to effectively support educators.

From the press release:

“I am proud of what we are building at Impact Florida,” said Trey Csar, Impact Florida Chief Operating Officer. “We saw gaps in the education sector, and we want to be an effective, collaborative partner to state and district leaders in addressing them. Likewise, we have great respect for the many education organizations working across our state. We look forward to building a shared vision around the specific moves leaders can make to support teachers in improving teaching practices, which we believe will lead to tangible improvement in the education K-12 students receive.”

Impact Florida’s vision of uniting Florida’s education leaders around the conditions that support excellent instruction is especially relevant, as Governor Ron DeSantis has issued an executive order calling for the current Florida Standards to be reviewed by the Florida Department of Education. Impact Florida looks forward to working with education leaders throughout the state during this process to ensure that any new standards reflect high expectations for students and fully prepare them for success. 

2 Comments

  1. Mark T.

    I think Florida is definitely moving in the right direction with this education initiative, Impact Florida. Improving the quality and training of our teachers, along with school choice programs, will make Florida a leader nationally in effective education.

    Reply
  2. Kelley

    I respectfully disagree, Mark. Yet another non-profit does little for the classroom. JPEF, which Mr. Csar led in Jax, had 0 impact on me as a Latin teacher. No need to drive to Orlando to rub elbows w/ others, Mr. Csar et al. Drive around the corner to mingle with the masses. Rm. 859 at Lee HS welcomes you.

    Reply

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