As outlined in yesterday’s Session Spotlight, the House and Senate took up several bills of interest today. Perhaps most notable of these was the consideration of SB 926 relating to K-12 Student Assessments and sponsored by Senator Flores. The bill was taken up today for its first formal review by the Senate Education Committee. During discussion today, several amendments were approved that significantly revise and improve the bill. Many of these amendments incorporated provisions that had been included in SB 964 by Senator Montford. Today’s key amendments accomplished the following:
- An amendment by Senator Simmons deletes a provision calling for a review the SAT and ACT to determine if such assessments are aligned with Florida’s academic standards and replaces it with provisions calling for an independent study of nationally recognized alternate high school assessment. The amendment directs the Commissioner of Education to contract for an independent study to determine whether a nationally recognized high school assessment may be administered in lieu of the Florida Standards Assessment and the Algebra I and end-of-course assessment for high school students. The amendment provides that, in order to be considered a nationally recognized high school assessment, the assessment must meet specific requirements. The commissioner and the contractor must consult with, and receive recommendations for alternate assessments from, certain education stakeholders and must submit a report on the findings of the study and any recommendations to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives by January 1, 2018.
- An amendment to this amendment by Senator Lee provides that a student who takes and passes an AP, IB, AICE, or national industry certification examination; takes and passes any other articulated acceleration mechanism; or achieves the required concordant scores on the ACT or SAT examinations, is exempt from taking the statewide, standardized assessments in the subject areas covered by those examinations. The amendment directs the Commissioner of Education to identify concordant scores or comparative scores, as appropriate, so that those scores satisfy the high school graduation requirements for an examination or assessment identified above and requires that the scores of students who pass the examinations or assessments identified above are incorporated into the school grade calculations.
- An amendment by Senator Simmons deletes a provision relating to the definition of the term “proficient” and replaces it with a provision calling for DOE to conduct a study of each of the achievement levels used for the statewide, standardized assessments and more specifically define the achievement levels in order to communicate the meaning of such levels to students, parents and teachers. DOE must submit a report with its recommendations to the Governor, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the state board by July 1, 2018.
- An amendment by Senator Simmons adds provisions requiring the Commissioner to make available an alternative, nonelectronic option for all statewide assessments. A second amendment on this issue requires the district superintendent to notify the commissioner that the district will use a nonelectronic option for the entire district or for specific grade levels throughout the district by the beginning of the school year in which the nonelectronic option is used. The superintendent must provide the commissioner with the reasons for implementing the nonelectronic option. The commissioner must provide the alternative, nonelectronic option to the school district for the successful and timely administration of the statewide, standardized assessments and end-of-course exams and for the reporting of assessment and exam results to the Department of Education.
- An amendment by Senator Simmons eliminates four statewide end-of-course assessments – in Civics, U.S. History, Geometry and Algebra II – and restates provisions in the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that requires assessments in grades 3-8 in English Language Arts and math, English Language Arts and math once in high school, and science once in elementary, middle and high school. The amendment also clarifies that a student must take one statewide, standardized mathematics assessment in high school that shall be Algebra I, Geometry or Algebra II.
- An amendment by Senator Simmons revises personnel evaluation procedures by making use of the Value Added Model (VAM) optional. The amendment provides that each school district may, but is not required to, measure student learning growth using the formulas developed by the Commissioner. The Commissioner would also have the option to develop a formula to measure individual student learning growth or value added models. Although the use of VAM would no longer be required, the underlying components of the evaluation system are retained and DOE retains the authority to approve and monitor each district’s teacher and school administrator evaluation system.
Other amendments that are generally unrelated to assessments were also approved, including provisions relating to the minority teacher education scholars program, establishment of a committee on early childhood development, and the deletion of the word “uninterrupted” as it applies to the required 90-minute daily reading instruction for third grade students who have been retained in grade. In addition, other provisions of the original bill remain intact, including provisions that shorten and move the state testing window to the last 3 weeks of the school year, require results on district-required local assessments be returned to a student’s teacher within 1 week after test administration, and require that results of statewide standardized assessments to be reported in an understandable format to each student’s current teacher of record and the teacher of record for the subsequent school year before the start of the school year.
Please note that today’s amendments were brought in the first of two committees of reference for this bill so more changes and refinements may be possible. Even so, as noted above, the major changes to the bill today incorporate improvements that have been supported by FSBA. We encourage you to contact the members of the Senate Education Committee and express your support for the progress made today.
Please click on the links below for reports on the other bills that were under consideration today. Because of the length of today’s agenda and the significance of some of the bills under consideration, we have separated our report on the outcome of these bills into three separate files to make it easier for you to navigate through these bills. The first file below contains a report on the bills considered by the House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee including, among others, bills relating to Instructional Materials and Charter Schools. The second file below contains a report on the bills considered by the Senate Education Committee including, among others, bills relating to assessments and public and private school choice options. The third file below contains a report on today’s remaining meetings and bills including, among others, bills relating to financial emergencies , we have provided the agendas for these meetings in separate files below this post. The remaining meetings on Monday are provided in the third file below. Last but not least, we have added a fourth file below that provides the schedule of bills that will be considered in the House and Senate Sessions tomorrow, April 4, 2017.
In the House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee meeting:
HB 549 — Publication of Student Assessments by Fine – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE (CS)
The bill requires the Commissioner of Education, beginning with the 2019-2020 school year and every 3 years thereafter, to publish on the Florida Department of Education’s (DOE) website each statewide, standardized assessment and statewide end-of-course (EOC) assessment, thereby providing public access to standardized tests taken by students in Florida. The bill allows the Commissioner of Education to determine the schedule for publishing assessments during the 3-year period; however, the initial publication must include the grade 3 English language arts (ELA) and mathematics assessments, the grade 10 ELA assessment, and the Algebra I EOC assessment. In addition, the bill requires the DOE to provide materials on its website to help the public interpret the published assessment information. [NOTE: Today’s amendment added an appropriation of $4 million to cover the costs identified by DOE for the creation of new assessments to replace those that have been published. This is the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill – SB 906 – is comparable but has not been heard in any of three committees of reference.]
HB 559 — Public Educational Facilities by Duran — PASSED
The bill provides that, for the purposes of determining the capacity of school facilities, as reported in the Florida Inventory of School Housing (FIISH), a school containing students in kindergarten through grade 5 is considered an elementary school and a school containing students in grades 6 through 8 is considered a middle school. In addition, the bill requires the commissioner, upon the request of a district school board, to grant an exemption from the State Requirements for Educational Facilities (SREF). The school board must prepare a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis to support the exemption request and must continue to comply with applicable provisions of the Florida Building Code and the Florida Fire Prevention Code which relate to the construction, remodeling and renovation of educational facilities. [NOTE: This is the first of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill – SB 642 – is similar and has passed the first of three committees of reference.]
HB 955 — High School Graduation Requirements/Financial Literacy by Ahern — PASSED
The bill requires students entering grade 9 in the 2017-2018 school year and thereafter to complete a one-half course credit in personal financial literacy. The bill revises the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards to include additional, specified financial literacy topics and requires the new personal financial literacy course to include discussion of, or instruction in, those topics. In addition, to maintain the current 24-credit graduation requirement, the bill reduces the electives credit requirement from eight credits to seven-and-one-half credits. [NOTE: This is the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion – SB 392 – is similar and has passed two of three committees of reference.]
HB 989 — Instructional Materials by Donalds — PASSED
The bill provides for greater transparency in the district-level instructional materials adoption process and more opportunities to review and challenge materials made available to students. The bill:
- Allows parents and residents of the county to provide the district school board evidence that an instructional material for adoption by the district does not meet the state criteria, contains prohibited content, or is otherwise inappropriate or unsuitable;
- Allows county residents to contest the adoption of an instructional material and object to the use of a material made available to students;
- Requires the process for contesting the adoption of an instructional material to provide for an impartial hearing officer;
- Requires school districts to discontinue use of a material found to be inappropriate or unsuitable;
- Requires school districts to provide access to library materials upon written request;
- Requires school districts to maintain a current list of purchased instructional materials on their websites;
- Requires that instructional materials purchased using the instructional materials allocation be on the state-adopted list unless purchased through a district instructional materials program;
- Requires that instructional materials purchased through a district instructional materials program meet the criteria for inclusion in the state-adopted list, be aligned to the state academic standards, and be consistent with course expectations and course descriptions;
- Eliminates the requirement that 50 percent of the instructional materials allocation be used to purchase electronic or digital materials;
- Clarifies that a school district is responsible for the content of all materials made available to students, including those that may not meet the statutory definition of an instructional material; and
- Specifies that an instructional material must be free of content that is pornographic or harmful to minors in order to be recommended for inclusion in the state-adopted list and that any material used in a classroom must also be free of such content.
[NOTE: This is the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill – SB 1210 – is comparable and has passed one of two committees of reference.]
HB 1229 — Committee on Early Grade Success by Grall — PASSED
The creates the Committee on Early Grade Success within the Department of Education to develop a proposal for establishing and implementing a coordinated child assessment system for the School Readiness Program, the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program, and the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment. The Committee’s proposal must include legislative recommendations for the design and implementation of a coordinated child assessment system, including, but not limited to:
- The purpose of a child assessment, with a focus on developmentally appropriate learning gains.
- Attributes for tool selection that provide guidance on procurement policies.
- An implementation schedule and protocols, including the frequency of data collection and a timeline for training to ensure reliability of the system.
- The methodology for collecting and analyzing data that define reporting requirements.
- A budget for the system, including cost analyses for purchasing materials and the necessary technology, training to ensure reliability, and data system management.
- Considerations for student privacy and tracking child development over time.
The University of Florida Lastinger Center for Learning shall provide the committee with staff necessary to assist the committee in the performance of its duties. The committee must submit a report of its findings and recommendations to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives by December 1, 2017. Once the report is submitted, the committee expires. The State Board of Education is granted the authority to adopt rules to implement and administer the provisions in the bill. [NOTE: This is the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion bill – SB 806 – is similar but has not been heard in any of four committees of reference.]
HB 1131 — Shared Use of Public School Playground Facilities by Drake – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS
The bill requires the Department of Education (DOE) to provide technical assistance to school districts to promote community use of shared facilities. The bill also creates a Shared Use Task Force to identify barriers in creating shared use agreements and to make recommendations to facilitate the shared use of school facilities generally and in high-need communities. [NOTE: Today’s amendments removed reference to a DOE grant program that was intended to assist school districts with costs associated with shared use of facilities and removed the authority for the State Board of Education to adopt rules relating to that grant program. This short summary reflects these changes. This is the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The Senate companion – SB 984 – is similar and will undergo consideration by the first of three committees of reference in the Senate Education Committee later in the afternoon (see below).]
HB 7101 — K-12 Education by PreK-12 Innovation – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS
The bill makes several revisions to current policies relating to charter schools. The bill:
- Requires the sponsor and the charter school governing board to use the standard charter contract developed by DOE which incorporates the approved application and any addenda approved with the application, provides that the standard contract cannot be altered in any way, and provides that any term or condition of a proposed contract that differs from the standard contract shall be presumed a limitation on charter school flexibility;
- Provides that charter schools and their governing boards are subject to the same waiver of sovereign immunity in tort actions as the state, state agencies and or subdivisions;
- Removes the provision that charter school student performance on statewide standardized assessments and other performance data be compared to student performance data of traditional public schools.
- Provides that student performance data from eligible students attending an alternative charter school shall be included in the calculation of the home school’s grade, as well as a high school student who transfers to a private school with which the school district has a contractual agreement (i.e. for which the school district subsidizes, in whole or in part, the enrollment fees;
- Allows the use of concordant scores, in addition to assessment scores or comparable scores, in determining an alternative school’s school improvement rating.
- Deletes the list of specific services that cooperative agreements may provide and instead allows charter schools to enter into cooperative agreements to further any educational, operational or administrative purposes in which participating charter schools share common interests;
- Specifies that a not-for-profit or municipal entity operating a charter school may use unrestricted surplus or net assets of their charter school(s) for K-12 educational purposes in their other schools;
- Specifies language regarding administrative fees for charter schools, high-performing charter schools and charter school systems and removes the restrictions on eligible expenditures of the funds resulting from the difference between the total calculated amount of administrative fees and the amount the district may withhold.
- Requires charter schools to annually complete and submit a survey to rate the timeliness and effectiveness of administrative services provided by sponsors. The Department of Education must develop and administer the survey, compile the results by district and include them in the annual authorizer report.
- Allows a high-performing charter school to establish more than one charter school a year only if it chooses to operate in and serve students from an area where a school is subject to differentiated accountability.
- Provides a high-performing charter school whose application has been denied a hearing by requiring that an appeal of such denial be brought before the Charter School Appeals Commission. Clarifies that a high-performing system may replicate a school in any district in the state and establishes a streamlined high-performing standard application form for replicating a high-performing charter school.
- Revises the definition of a “charter school system” with regard to LEA eligibility status by removing the requirements that a system of charter schools include both conversion charter schools and non-conversion charter schools and the provision that the system does not contract with a for-profit service provider for management of school operations.
- Changes the charter school application deadline from August 1 to February 1;
- Deletes language regarding federal funds that conflicts with federal requirements for distribution of such funds; and
- Removes the requirement that the online learning portion of a blended learning model be in a classroom setting at the charter school;
- Removes the requirement that an eligible dual enrollment program be located and chartered in Florida and revises eligibility requirements for postsecondary institutions to participate in dual enrollment by requiring that the institution be accredited by any regional or national accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. DOE rather than only the Commission of Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools or the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools;
- Requires sponsors to notify a charter school if they intend to not renew a contract and provide the charter school with a hearing.
[NOTE: Today’s amendment removes the bill provisions that would require school districts to share discretionary millage with charter schools-in-a-municipality and the bill provisions that would have removed the requirement that a charter school have satisfactory student achievement to be eligible for charter school capital outlay funding. This short summary reflects these changes. This is the first of two committees of reference for this bill. There is no direct Senate companion bill.]
In the Senate Education Committee meeting:
SB 468 – Voluntary Prekindergarten Education by Stargel — PASSED
The bill revises provisions related to the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education (VPK) program and duties of the Just Read! Florida Office (Just Read! Florida). Specifically, the bill:
- Requires the Just Read, Florida! to train Voluntary Prekindergarten through grade 3 teachers, reading coaches, and school principals on effective research-based instructional strategies.
- Requires the Office of Early Learning (OEL) to determine eligibility for enrollment and reenrollment in the school year VPK program.
- Requires each early learning coalition (ELC) to coordinate with the OEL to assign student identification numbers to each student who enrolls in the program.
- Clarifies that the Department of Education (DOE) must adopt a single statewide kindergarten readiness screening that is a direct assessment of early literacy and numeracy skills.
- Requires private prekindergarten providers and public schools in the VPK program to provide parents with the results of the pre- and post- assessment within 10 days after the administering the assessment and requires the results of the pre- and post- assessments to be reported at the aggregate level, distributed to the respective ELCs and school districts, and displayed on the OEL’s website within 30 days after the administration of the assessment.
- Authorizes a child who is at risk of not attaining the performance standards specified in law to reenroll, at the request of the child’s parent, in one of the school-year programs offered by a provider that has met the adopted minimum readiness rate provided in law for the subsequent year.
- Provides for an appropriation of $10 million dollars from the General Revenue Fund to the DOE for developing training for VPK through grade 3 teachers, reading coaches, and school principals.
[NOTE: This is the first of four committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill – HB 757 – is similar and has passed one of three committees of reference.]
SB 796 – Charter Schools by Bean — NOT CONSIDERED
The bill creates the High-Impact Charter Management Organization (HICMO) designation, authorizes certain entities to apply for the designation, and defines related terms. Specifically, the bill:
- Establishes the process and criteria for the initial designation and renewal of the designation.
- Provides incentives for HICMO entities to operate in Florida.
- Requires the Florida Department of Education (DOE) to provide school districts with technical assistance to ensure that federal funds are allocated to charter schools using an appropriate methodology.
- Removes the requirement that a charter school must have satisfactory student achievement based on state accountability standards to receive charter school capital outlay funding.
- Directs the State Board of Education to adopt rules to administer the HICMO provisions.
[NOTE: This is the first of four committees of reference for this bill. There is no direct House companion bill.]
SB 856 – Education/Contracts for Instructional Personnel by Broxson — PASSED
The bill clarifies that a district school board must issue contracts on an annual basis to instructional personnel hired on or after July 1, 2011, by specifying that the district school board may not award an annual contract based on a contingency or condition that is not expressed in statute or alter or limit its authority to award or not award an annual contract. [NOTE: This is the first of four committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill – HB 373 – is identical, has passed all both committees of reference and is on the Special Order Calendar (2nd Reading) for 4/4/17.]
SB 868 – Educational Options and Services by Baxley – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS
The bill expands educational options and services to prepare students for higher education and entry into the workforce. Specifically, the bill:
- Removes the eligibility criteria for students to participate in virtual instruction programs.
- Clarifies that students with disabilities must be offered the option to pursue a scholar or merit designation, removes the option for a certificate of completion, and modifies the criteria to document mastery of academic and employment competencies.
- Requires an individualized progress monitoring plan be developed for all students in a juvenile justice education program, including those with disabilities.
- Adds the Chancellor of Career and Adult Education to the Higher Education Coordinating Council.
- Requires that any institution seeking initial or continued approval of a graduate-level teacher education program in a certification area that does not require a graduate degree must provide students the option to complete the initial preparation program at the bachelor’s level.
- Revises the dual enrollment program to clarify the description of career dual enrollment, authorize the Commissioner of Education to establish a statewide articulation agreement for the Florida Virtual School, and expand the rulemaking authority of the State Board of Education to specify rulemaking relating to student eligibility and participation, courses and programs, funding, and articulation agreements.
- Deems participants in adult or youth work experience activities administered by the Division of Blind Services and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation as employees of the state for purposes of workers’ compensation coverage, but provides that such participants are not eligible for compensation benefits.
[NOTE: This is the first of three committees of reference for this bill. There is no direct House companion bill.]
SB 902 – Gardiner Scholarship Program by Simmons – NOT CONSIDERED
The bill modifies the Gardiner Scholarship Program (GSP)to:
- Expand the definition of disability, for purposes of the GSP, to include a child:
- Diagnosed with rare diseases or condition, as defined by the Orphan Drug Act;15
- Diagnosed as Anaphylaxis; or
- Identified as orthopedically impaired, deaf, visually impaired, hospital or homebound, dual sensory impaired, traumatic brain injured, or other health impaired, as defined by rules of the State Board of Education and evidenced by reports from local school districts.
- Specify that a student’s individual education pan (IEP) is not required to be reviewed or revised within the last 12 months in order for the student to be eligible for the GSP.
- Revise GSP eligibility criteria to include a student that is five years of age or older and previously identified as high-risk.
- Allow a student with an IEP from another state or physician licensed in another state to qualify for the GSP, if the student meets the other eligibility requirements.
- Authorize the use of GSP funds to procure services provided by a certified music therapist, art therapist, or services provided at a center that is a member of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International.
- Provide that if a private school is unable to meet the requirements in law or has consecutive years of material exceptions listed in its agreed-upon procedures reports, the Commissioner of the Department of Education (DOE) may determine that the schools is ineligible to participate in the GSP.
- Specify that the calculation for GSP award shall be based on the student’s matrix level of services and the funding for a student without a matrix shall be based on the Level III matrix.
In addition, the bill provides for an appropriation of $200 million in recurring funds from the General Revenue Fund to the Department of Education (DOE) for scholarship awards under the GSP for the 2017-2018. In addition to the funds appropriated for the scholarship awards, the sum of $6 million in recurring funds from the General Revenue funds to the DOE for each Scholarship-Funding Organization’s (SFO’s) reasonable and necessary administrative expenses to manage and distribute scholarship awards under the program. The amount paid to each SFO cannot exceed 3 percent of each scholarship award. [NOTE: This is the first of three committees of reference for this bill. There is no direct House companion bill.]
SB 926 – K-12 Student Assessments by Flores – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS (see above for our report on this bill)
SB 984 — Shared Use of Public School Playground Facilities by Bean – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS
The bill provides legislative intent to increase the number of school districts that open their playground facilities to community use outside of school hours. Specifically, the bill:
- Establishes a Shared Use Task Force to identify barriers in creating shared use agreements and make recommendations to facilitate the shared use of school facilities generally and in high-need communities; and specifies membership of the task force.
- Requires the Department of Education (DOE) to provide technical assistance to school districts regarding the shared use of school facilities.
- Specifies additional duties that the DOE must perform with the funds established in the General Appropriations Act.
[NOTE: Today’s amendment was a technical amendment. This is the first of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 1131 – is identical and will undergo consideration in the second of three committees of reference today in the House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee today (see above).]
SB 1302 – Private School Student/Extracurricular Activities by Gibson — PASSED
The bill requires the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA), in cooperation with each district school board, to allow a student attending a private school that is not a member of the FHSAA to participate in interscholastic or intrascholastic sports at a public school that a student could choose to attend pursuant to controlled open enrollment. [NOTE: This is the first of four committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill – HB 1109 – has passed both committees of reference and is available for 2nd Reading in the House.]
SB 1314 – Educational Options by Grimsley — AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS
The bill revises the Florida Tax Credit (FTC) Scholarship Program to:
- Require the Florida Department of Revenue to provide Scholarship-Funding Organizations (SFOs) a copy of its letter denying or approving certain transactions.
- Allow a dependent child of a parent or guardian who is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces to apply for the FTC at any time.
- Specify that a parent must approve any payment made by funds transfer.
- Change the deadline from September 15 to August 15 for a private school participating in the FTC to submit its report to the SFO on the results of its agreed-upon procedures.
- Provide that the listing of material exceptions in a private school’s agreed-upon procedures reports constitutes a basis for FTC program ineligibility as determined by the Florida Department of Education (DOE).
- Authorize the Learning System Institute at the Florida State University to be compensated for additional research through the project grant award issued by the DOE.
- Increase the FTC scholarship award amount to a percentage of the unweighted FTE funding amount for that state fiscal year and thereafter as follows:
- 88 percent for a student in kindergarten through grade 5.
- 92 percent for a student enrolled in grades 7-8.
- 96 percent for a student enrolled in grades 9-12.
- Raise the transportation scholarship award for a student who chooses a public school outside of his or her district from $500 to $750.
- Provide that an SFO can make payments by fund transfer, subject to parent approval, and specifies that a student’s scholarship award may not be reduced for debit card or electronic payment fees.
[NOTE: Today’s amendment was a technical amendment clarifying FTC program eligibility. This is the first of four committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill – HB 15 – is comparable and has passed two of three committees of reference.]
SB 1330 – Concealed Weapons and Firearms/Private School Property by Stargel – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS
The bill provides that a person who is licensed to carry a concealed weapon or firearm under Florida law is not prohibited from carrying a concealed weapon or firearm on private school property during non-school hours if a religious institution is located on the property. [NOTE: Today’s amendment revises the limitation that applies the bill to “non-school hours” to allow carrying a concealed weapon or firearm on private school property even if school related activities, such as after school care or athletic events, are taking place. This is the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill – HB 849 – is similar, has passed both committees of reference and has been place on the Special Order Calendar (2nd Reading) in the House for 4/4/17.]
SB 1362 – K-12 Education/Charter Schools by Broxson – NOT CONSIDERED
The bill creates the designation of High-Impact Charter Network (HICN), defines related terms, provides incentives for HICN entities to operate in Florida, and establishes application and review processes for the designation. In addition, the bill:
- Eliminates the requirement for the Department of Education to compare student performance data of charter schools within a school district with public schools within that district, and with the other charter schools in Florida as well as the posting of such information on each charter school’s Internet website.
- Allows a collocated school to receive a school improvement rating if all the schools at the site are eligible for a school improvement rating and do not elect to be graded.
- Replaces statutory reference to the ACT Aspire test with the Preliminary ACT.
[NOTE: This is the first of three committees of reference for this bill. There is no direct House companion.]
SB 1368 – Exceptional Student Instruction by Perry – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS
The bill removes the option for the school district receiving an exceptional student with a disability, who resides in a residential facility, to decline to provide or contract for educational instruction. [NOTE: This is the first of four committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill – HB 655 – is identical and has passed two of three committees of reference.]
SB 1468 – Education by Galvano – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS
The bill codifies responsibilities for the Auditor General and the Florida Polytechnic University and, of particular interest to school districts, the bill adds an authority to the Commissioner of Education’s powers and duties to authorize the Commissioner of Education to coordinate, in the event of an emergency, with school districts, Florida College System institutions, and the satellite offices of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and the Division of Blind Services to assess their needs for resources to enable such entities to reopen as soon as possible after considering the health, safety, and welfare of students and clients. [NOTE: Today’s amendment creating the Early Childhood Music Education Incentive Pilot Program within the Department of Education and specifies school district eligibility, program requirements, etc. This is the first of three committees of reference for this bill. There is no direct House companion bill.]
SB 1474 – Teacher Certification by Perry – NOT CONSIDERED
The bill requires the Florida Department of Education to issue:
- A professional certificate to any applicant who fulfills the statutorily requirements for a professional certificate and completes a professional preparation and education competency program approved by the DOE.
- A temporary certificate to a qualifying applicant within 14 calendar days after the receipt of the request form and electronically notify the applicant’s employee school district or employing private school that the temporary certificate has been issued. DOE is required to issue an official statement of status of eligibility within 90 calendar days after the stamped receipted date of the completed application. This statement must be provided electronically and specify every method by which an applicant can complete the qualifications for a professional certificate.
In addition, the bill revises the professional development certification and education competency program to specify a teacher mentorship and induction component; and authorizes charter schools and charter management organizations to provide the program that includes the teacher mentorship and induction component. [NOTE: This is the first of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill – HB 1111 – is similar and has passed two of three committees of reference.]
SB 1552 – Florida Best and Brightest Teacher & Principal Awards by Simmons – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS
The bill modifies program eligibility and award provisions to expand access to more educators, to strengthen the program’s commitment as a performance-based award, and to reframe the program’s focus on the recruitment and retention needs of struggling schools. The bill:
- Retains the program’s two-prong criteria for eligibility by requiring applicants to demonstrate both academic achievements and performance accomplishments.
- Expands program eligibility to include school administrators.
- Expands the list of assessments educators may use to satisfy the program’s academic achievement requirement. The bill retains the 80th percentile provision for the ACT/SAT as an option, but adds the following alternatives for demonstrating academic achievement:
- Appropriate scores on the GRE, LSAT, GMAT, and MCAT as established by the SBE.
- Scoring at or above the 90th percentile on the Florida Teacher Certification Exam (FTCE) in the subject being taught (classroom teacher); or
- Scoring at or above the 90th percentile on the Florida Educational Leadership Exam (FELE) (school administrator).
- Clarifies award eligibility applies only to full-time annual and probationary contract educators participating in the performance salary schedule (educators currently employed under a professional service contract or continuing contract – or choose to continue participating in grandfathered salary schedules – are not eligible for the award).
- Redefines eligibility criteria for newly-hired teachers and principals. Specifically, the bill integrates components of Governor Scott’s teacher recruitment and retention initiative proposal to authorize a one-time, guaranteed $10,000 signing bonus award for new classroom teachers or school administrators who satisfy the program’s academic achievement requirement and meets one of the following conditions:
- Is a College Reach Out Program (CROP) completer, with a minimum 3.0 GPA, who commits to working in a Florida public school for at least 3 years;
- Is a Florida Prepaid Tuition Scholarship Program (e.g., Take Stock in Children) completer, with a minimum 3.0 GPA, who commits to working in a Florida public school for at least 3 years; or
- Is a Florida college or university graduate of a Florida Techer Preparation Program, with a minimum 3.0 GPA, and commits to working for at least 3 years in a critical teacher shortage area in a Florida public school.
- Incentivizes service in struggling, low-performing schools by providing a level of performance flexibility and predictability in award amounts. Specifically, the bill guarantees a full award amount for qualified educators who meet all of the following conditions:
- Works in a low-performing school or a school that was low-performing within the previous two years, as designated by the DOE.
- Commits to working at the school for at least 3 years; and
- Earns a “highly effective” performance rating in at least 2 of every 3 annual performance evaluations, using a 3-year rolling period.
[NOTE: Today’s amendment adds a cumulative undergraduate or graduate grade point average of at least 3.5 on a 4.0 scale to the list of alternatives for demonstrating academic achievement for eligibility for an award. This is the first of four committees of reference for this bill. There is no direct House companion bill.]
SB 1586 – Student Eligibility for Interscholastic Athletic Competition by Garcia – NOT CONSIDERED
The bill requires the pre-participation physical evaluation form to contain information that advises a student to complete cardiovascular assessment including an electrocardiogram. In addition, the bill clarifies that licensed practitioners must administer the medical evaluation that a student must satisfactorily pass before participating in interscholastic competition or engaging in any practice, tryout, or other physical activity associated with the student’s’ candidacy for an interscholastic athletic team. [NOTE: This is the first of three committees of reference for this bill. There is no direct House companion bill.]
SB 1598 – Education/Schools of Excellence/Certification by Brandes – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS
The bill establishes the Schools of Excellence Program to provide administrative flexibility to the state’s top schools to enhance student learning. Additionally, the bill:
- Renames the current professional development certification and education competency program as the comprehensive teacher mentorship certification program with some modifications.
- Modifies the School Professional Development Act to include specified training relating to the comprehensive teacher mentorship certification program.
[NOTE: Today’s amendments allow the Department of Corrections to contract with charter schools to provide educational services to inmates and allows a public high school, including a charter school, to be located on a postsecondary institution’s campus. This is the first of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill – HB 1331 – is similar and has passed two of three committees of reference.]
SB 1710 – Education/Civic Literacy by Stargel — PASSED
The bill designates the month of September as “American Founders’ Month” and authorizes the Governor to issue a proclamation urging all civic, fraternal, and religious organizations and public and private educational institutions to recognize, observe, and celebrate the month. Specifically, the bill:
- Encourages all public schools to observe “American Founders’ Month” with appropriate instruction and activities.
- Establishes civic literacy as a priority of Florida’s K-20 education system.
- Requires the Just Read, Florida! Office to develop and provide access to sequenced, content-rich programming, instructional practices, and resources to increase students’ core knowledge and literacy skills including student attainment of state standards for social studies, science, and the arts.
- Requires students initially entering a Florida College System institution or state university in 2018-2019 and thereafter, to demonstrate civic literacy through successful completion of a civic literacy course or by achieving a passing score on an assessment adopted in rule by the State Board of Education or in regulation by the Board of Governors, as applicable.
[NOTE: This is the first of four committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill — HB 7057 – is similar and has passed one of two committees of reference.]
In the Senate Community Affairs Committee meeting:
SB 1402 – Local Governmental Financial Emergencies by Latvala – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS
The bill makes numerous changes to the “Local Governmental Entity, Charter School, Charter Technical Career Center, and District School Board Financial Emergencies Act.” Specifically, the bill provides that those local governmental entities are subject to review and oversight by the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Legislative Auditing Committee. As such, when certain financial emergencies exist, a local governmental entity, or an agency in certain cases, must also notify the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Upon notification of such an emergency, the Governor, in cooperation with the appropriate committees and subcommittees of the House of Representatives and of the Senate, including the Legislative Auditing Committee, must contact the local governmental entity or the Commissioner of Education to determine what actions have been taken by the local governmental entity or district school board to resolve or prevent the condition and determine whether the local governmental entity or district school board needs state assistance to resolve or prevent the condition into the future.
The bill also revises the composition and duties of a financial emergency board (Board). The bill provides that a financial emergency board must consist of an odd number of members comprised of at least 7 members but not more than 13. If the Board is established for a local governmental entity, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives must each appoint two of the board members. The Governor must appoint the remainder of the board members and designate the chair. If the Board is established for a district school board, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives must each appoint two of the Board members. The State Board of Education must appoint the remainder of the Board members and designate the chair.
The bill establishes qualifications for appointees to the Board. The members should collectively possess the knowledge, skills, and competencies needed to perform their individual responsibilities and accomplish the mission of the Board, including, but not limited to, internal quality control, finance, business administration, and public works. The chair must have experience in at least one of several specified positions or areas. The bill requires that the Board have access to records, data, and other information of the local governmental entity or the district school board necessary to carry out its duties and must be given the technical and financial resources necessary to complete those duties. The Board must adopt rules as necessary for conducting Board business. In addition, the board may:
- Hire or retain legal counsel.
- Obtain external advice and assistance if the internal audit staff lacks the knowledge, skills, or other competencies needed to perform all or part of the duties necessary to resolve the financial emergency conditions.
- Request and obtain assistance from any federal agency, state agency, or local entity.
- Issue and serve subpoenas to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents, reports, answers, records, accounts, and data in any format. In the event of noncompliance with a subpoena issued, the chair of the Board may petition the circuit court of the county for an order requiring the person to appear and testify and to produce documents.
- Require a person to file a statement in writing, under oath, as to all the facts and circumstances concerning the matter to be audited, examined, or investigated.
- Makes such reviews of records, reports, and assets of the local governmental entity or the district school board as are needed.
- Consult with officials and auditors of the local governmental entity or the district school board and the appropriate state officials regarding any steps necessary to bring the books of account, accounting systems, financial procedures, and reports of the local governmental entity or the district school board into compliance with state requirements.
- Review the operations, management, efficiency, productivity, and financing of functions and operations of the local governmental entity or the district school board.
- Consult with other governmental entities for the consolidation of all administrative direction and support services.
The bill provides that each recommendation and report made by the Board addressing a local entity must be submitted to the Governor, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Legislative Auditing Committee, and the local governmental entity under review. Each recommendation and report addressing a district school board must be submitted to the Governor, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Legislative Auditing Committee, the Commissioner of Education, and the State Board of Education.
If a local governmental entity or district school board fails to remedy or take action on recommendations made in any report within 60 days after receipt, the board may assume operational and institutional control of the functions of the local government entity or district school board. [NOTE: The most significant provision in today’s amendment is the addition of a provision stating that, if a local governmental entity or the district school board fails to remedy or take action on recommendations within a specified time period, a member of the governing body of the local governmental entity or the district school board who failed to vote affirmatively to remedy or take action on the recommendations is subject to suspension from office by the Governor for malfeasance and misfeasance in office. This is the first of four committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill – HB 1289 — is similar and has passed two of three committees of reference.]
In the Senate Governmental Oversight & Accountability Committee meeting:
SB 1500 – Retirement/Instructional Personnel/School Administrators by Mayfield – AMENDED AND PASSED WITH A CS
The bill provides that, for instructional personnel and administrative personnel in grades K-12 who enter DROP before July 1, 2017, the member may continue to participate in DROP until the last day of the last calendar month of the school year in which his or her termination date occurs, notwithstanding the limitations on the length of participation, if a date other than the last day of the last calendar month of the school year is designated. The employer must notify the division of the change in termination date and the additional period of DROP participation for each affected member. [NOTE: Today’s amendment was a strike-all amendment. The short summary above reflects the changes made to the bill by the amendment. This is the first of four committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill – HB 1223 – is comparable but has not been heard in any of the three committees of reference.]
In the Senate Health Policy Committee meeting:
SB 782 – High School Graduation Requirements/Physical Education by Mayfield — PASSED
The bill revises the high school graduation requirements for satisfying the mandatory one-credit requirement in physical education. Specifically, the bill deletes the requirement for students who participate in two full seasons of an interscholastic sport to pass a competency test on personal fitness in order to satisfy the physical education credit required for graduation with a standard high school diploma. [NOTE: This is the second of three committees of reference for this bill. The House companion bill – HB 6015 – is identical but has not been heard in any of the two committees of reference.]
Please note that all of the meetings listed below may be viewed via live webcast on the Florida Channel. For real-time updates on these meetings and other legislative activities, please click HERE to access our Twitter feed.
The House will be in Session (1:30 pm – completion; House Chamber) to consider the following items and others on Special Order (2nd Reading):
HB 303 – Religious Expression in Public Schools by Burgess
The bill authorizes a student to:
- Express religious beliefs in written and oral assignments free from discrimination.
- Wear jewelry that displays a religious message or symbol to the same extent as secular types of jewelry that displays messages or symbols are permitted.
- Engage in and organize religious groups before, during, and after the school day in the same manner and to the same extent that secular student organizations and groups are permitted.
The bill requires a school district to:
- Allow a religious group the same access to the same school facilities for assembling as given to a secular group and allow a religious or secular group to advertise or announce its meetings.
- Permit school personnel to participate in religious activities on school grounds that are student-initiated and at reasonable times before or after the school day as long as the activities are voluntary and do not conflict with the duties and responsibilities of such school personnel.
The bill provides that these provisions may be enforced pursuant to s. 761.04, F.S., relating to attorney’s fees and costs, authorized by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1998. [NOTE: the Senate companion bill – SB 436 — is comparable and has passed the Senate.]
HB 827 – Teacher Bonuses by Porter
Current law provides additional funding based on student achievement in International Baccalaureate (IB), Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE), Advanced Placement (AP) and Career and Professional Education (CAPE) courses and individual teachers of these courses are awarded bonuses of up to $3,000 for students who achieve specific results in these courses. The bill removes the annual teacher bonus limits for IB, AICE, AP and CAPE courses. In addition, the bill requires the district to allocate at least 80% of the AICE exam bonus funds to the program that generates the funds. [NOTE: There is no direct Senate companion bill]
HB 373 – Education/Contracts for Instructional Personnel by M. Grant
The bill clarifies that the district must issue contracts on an annual basis and may not:
- Award an annual contract to instructional personnel based on a contingency or condition that is not expressed in statute; or
- Alter or limit its authority to award or not award an annual contract to instructional personnel.
The bill provides that the provision prohibiting a school board from awarding, or altering its authority to award, an annual contract only applies to collective bargaining agreements entered into or renewed by a district school board on or after this law is enacted. [NOTE: The Senate companion bill — SB 856 – is identical and has passed the first of four committees of reference.]
HB 591 – Maximum Class Size by Massullo
The bill removes the exemptions for class size requirements and maintains class size compliance for each classroom but revises the method for calculating the penalty to be at the school average for any school that fails to comply with class size requirements. The bill repeals an increase in the penalty for failure to comply with the class size requirements and provides that a district may not have its class size categorical allocation reduced for the 2017-18 or 2018-19 fiscal years if it meets certain requirements. [NOTE: The Senate companion bill – SB 808 – is similar and has passed one of four committees of reference.]
HB 781 – Designation of School Grades by Porter
Current law provides that a school that serves any combination of K-3 students, that does not receive a school grade as a result of its students not being tested and included in the school grading system, receives the school grade of a K-3 feeder pattern school determined by the Department of Education and verified by the district. A school feeder pattern exists if at least 60% of the students are assigned to the graded school. The bill revises the number of students required to establish a school feeder pattern from 60% to a majority. [NOTE: The Senate companion bill – SB 1222 – is similar and has passed one of three committees of interest.]
HB 849 – Concealed Weapons & Firearms/Private School Property by Combee
The bill amends current law that prohibits licensees from carrying a concealed weapon or concealed firearm at a school. The bill provides that a licensee is not prohibited from carrying a concealed weapon or concealed firearm on private school property if a religious institution is located on the property. [NOTE: The Senate companion bill – SB 1330 – is similar and has passed two of three committees of reference.]
The Senate will be in Session (1:30-3:30 pm; Senate Chamber) to consider the following items and others on 3rd Reading:
SB 78 – Public School Recess by Flores
The bill requires each district school board to provide at least 100 minutes of supervised, safe, and unstructured free-play recess each week for students in kindergarten through grade 5. Such recess must involve at least 20 consecutive minutes of free-play per day. [NOTE: The House companion bill — HB 67 – is comparable and has passed one of three committees of reference]