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Here's what US schools are doing in response to the coronavirus

By Sunny Kim on February 3, 2020

Some schools across the country have canceled student trips and exchange programs to China as the coronavirus spreads.

Others are asking students who have traveled to the region not to attend classes.

As concerns over the coronavirus mount, some U.S. school districts have canceled Chinese student exchange programs to alleviate fears in the community. Since the first outbreak of the new virus reported in Wuhan, China, in late December, the virus has spread both locally and overseas,sickening about 17,400 people across the globe and killing at least 362. There have been 11 cases in the United States so far.



Great Expectations: The Impact of Rigorous Grading Practices on Student Achievement

Re-posted from an online column posted by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and dated February 4, 2020.

By Seth Gershenson

We know from previous survey research that teachers who hold high expectations for all of their students significantly increase the odds that those young people will go on to complete high school and college. One indicator of teachers’ expectations is their approach to grading—specifically, whether they subject students to more or less rigorous grading practices. Unfortunately, “grade inflation” is pervasive in U.S. high schools, as evidenced by rising GPAs even as SAT scores and other measures of academic performance have held stable or fallen. The result is that a “good” grade is no longer a clear marker of knowledge and skills.

Authored by American University’s Seth Gershenson, Great Expectations: The Impact of Rigorous Grading Practices on Student Achievement examines to what extent teachers’ grading standards affect student success. Specifically, this report investigates the following questions:

  1. How do the grading standards of an Algebra I teacher affect content mastery, as measured by student performance on the end-of-course Algebra I exam?  
  2. Do the grading standards of an Algebra I teacher impact students’ longer-term performance in subsequent math courses like geometry and Algebra II, and their likelihood of graduating from high school?  
  3. Does the impact of an Algebra I teacher’s grading standards vary by student, school, or teacher characteristics? Likewise, what school and teacher characteristics predict teachers’ grading standards?

To address these questions, Gershenson analyzed administrative data for all eighth and ninth grade Algebra I students in North Carolina’s public schools from 2006 to 2016.

The analysis yielded six major findings. Among them: Students of all racial/ethnic groups learn more from teachers with high grading standards, and these standards tend to be higher in schools serving more advantaged students. Moreover, the impact of rigorous grading practices can improve student performance in subsequent math classes up to two years later.

Seth Gershenson is associate professor of public affairs at American University, research fellow at the Institute of Labor Economics, and technical advisor to the Institute for Education Policy at Johns Hopkins. Professor Gershenson works broadly in the economics of education, with specific interests in teacher labor markets, summer learning loss, student absences, community shocks, educational expectations, and the causes.



Casey DeSantis announces new education initiatives in Tallahassee

From FLAPOL   

By Sarah Mueller on January 24, 2020

Public school students across the state could soon begin using digital apps to help learn to read and do Math.

Education technology company Age of Learning is offering to let school districts use two of their digital apps from its online learning program, one for reading and one for Math, for free, as part of a pilot program for pre-k through 2nd graders.

First Lady Casey DeSantis announced the pilot program Friday morning at the Leon County Public Library. She said the Mastering Math app is designed to teach children to recognize numbers and to start learning addition and subtraction. The Mastering Reading app helps kids learn to read on their own.

“What I really love about this technology is that it provides students the ability to learn how to read even if unfortunately they do not have the help of an adult,” she said. “It is something that is self-guided.”

Age of Learning CEO Paul Candland said the company is well known for their ABCmouse products, but what they’re bringing to Florida is the next generation.




Ron DeSantis announces BEST education standards to replace Common Core

By Jacob Ogleson
January 24, 2020

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday said the new set of Florida education standards to replace Common Core is complete. The changes include requirements children learn cursive, study the Constitution in grade school and meet several measures in literacy based on grade level.

“It really goes beyond Common Core to embrace common sense,” DeSantis said.

The Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking will be published on the Department of Education website next week. But a summary of recommendations and changes was made available shortly after a press conference in Naples.

Among the most notable changes were new expectations in literacy ranging from learning sight words in grade school to being able to comprehend Shakespearean sonnets before graduating high school.

But in some places, standards change downward. In one section that promises “No ‘Confusing’ Math,” a requirement for students to learn to “multiply a whole number of up to four digits by a one-digit whole number, and multiply two two- digit numbers, using strategies based on place value and the properties of operations” gets changed to simply multiplying four-digit whole numbers by a one-digit number with “procedural fluency.”

DeSantis spoke to supporters in Naples about the mission to replace Common Core. A year ago, he signed an executive order demanding the elimination of all vestiges of the derided standards.

What’s in the new standards will become more clear next week, but he promised a focus on literacy and civics, a long-held priority of the Republican leader. The new standards require teaching the U.S. Constitution in 5th grade, as opposed to 11th grade.

DeSantis managed to sneak an allusion to President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign slogan — that students must “understand the principles that make America Great.”

He also referenced Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., saying a read of the civil rights leader’s famous speeches showed understanding of American civics.

But much of the press conference was spent deriding the 2010 national standards BEST will replace. That showed the significant evolution in the politics of Common Core, originally adopted in some form by 41 states.



Florida Public Charter Schools to Celebrate National School Choice Week, Jan. 26 to Feb. 1, 2020

Member Schools of Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools (FCPCS) Encouraged to Participate

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (January 24, 2020) – Many of Florida’s more than 650 public charter schools are expected to participate in this year’s National School Choice Week, slated for January 26 through February 1, 2020.

Founded in 2011, National School Choice Week promotes all forms of school choice, including public charter schools, private schools, district schools, magnet schools and home schools.  According to the organization’s website, “National School Choice Week recognizes all K-12 options.  It is the world’s largest annual celebration of opportunity in education.”

National School Choice Week touts participation this year by more than 51,000 school leaders, teachers, organizations, homeschooling groups and parents.  Interested potential participants can obtain more information and sign up at

A number of Florida’s public charter schools have participated in National School Choice Week in recent years, according to FCPCS President Robert Haag. 

“The Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools encourages our members schools to be part of the 2020 celebration,” said Haag.  “It will help to increase awareness and understanding of the growing role of public charter schools in Florida education.  It’s a good opportunity to boost the visibility of public charter schools in Florida.”

For more information about National School Choice Week, please visit the website

About the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools

Celebrating its 20th Anniversary as an organization driving the charter school movement in Florida, the Florida Consortium of Public Charter Schools (FCPCS) is the leading charter school membership association in the state, with a membership of nearly 75 percent of all operating charter schools.  Since its inception in 1999, FCPCS has been dedicated to creating a national model of high quality, accredited public charter schools that are student-centered and performance-driven.  FCPCS provides a wide array of technical support, mentoring, training, networking, and purchasing services to its membership, as well as serving as an advocate for all Florida public charter schools.

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