2017 Legislative Session: Week 5 Highlights

2017 Legislative Session: Week 5 Highlights

Saturday, April 08, 2017

This week, Florida Senate and House Leaders passed legislation to streamline testing, improve reading proficiency and expand educational opportunities for students.

  • HB 827, which removes caps on financial bonuses available to K-12 educators who teach advanced courses, passed the Florida House on April 5.
  • SB 926, which gives teachers more time to teach by moving statewide assessments to the end of the school year, passed the Senate Education Committee with a unanimous bipartisan vote.
  • HB 15, which expands the Gardiner Scholarship program, passed the House Committee on Education with a unanimous bipartisan vote.

Highlights from week five of Florida's 2017 Legislative Session.

House Bill 827Teacher Bonuses:

Legislation to remove caps on financial awards available to Florida teachers passed the Florida House on April 5. The legislation, sponsored by Representative Elizabeth Porter, now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Currently, Florida teachers are capped on the bonuses they can receive when their students successfully earn college credit in Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) or industry certifications or digital certificates. This legislation removes those caps.

Senate Bill 926 - Fewer, Better Tests:

Sponsored by Senator Anitere Flores, SB 926 passed the Senate Education Committee earlier this week and will now move to the Rules Committee.

The legislation would give teachers more time to teach by moving statewide assessments to the end of the school year. The bill also increases transparency by providing teachers and parents with easy-to-understand and actionable student score reports, and it ensures teachers receive timely results from local assessments to help inform classroom instruction.

Leaders from Florida’s education and business communities have expressed their support for this important piece of legislation. A recent editorial on how to fix “classroom dead time” underscored the necessity of Florida’s Fewer, Better Tests legislation.

A companion piece to the legislation, HB 773, passed the House Subcommittee on PreK-12 Appropriations earlier last week and will now move to the House Education Committee. HB 773 is sponsored by Representative Manny Diaz, Jr. and Representative Chris Sprowls.

House Bill 15 - Gardiner Scholarship Expansion:

Legislation to expand the Gardiner Scholarship Program, sponsored by Representative Jennifer Sullivan, passed the House Education Committee on April 6, with a unanimous bipartisan vote. The legislation now moves to the House floor.

Jeanne Boggs, a parent of a Gardiner Scholarship student, urged committee members to support the legislation because of the tremendous difference the scholarship has made in the lives of children with special needs.

HB 15 would expand the Gardiner Scholarship program to children with rare diseases and includes other allowable uses of these funds. The scholarship program is currently serving more than 7,500 Florida children with unique needs.

Senate Bill 468 - VPK-Grade 3 Reading:

A comprehensive early literacy bill, sponsored by Senator Kelli Stargel, passed the Senate Education Committee on April 3.

The legislation would lead to more students reading on grade level by providing statewide research-based training to Florida elementary teachers, reading coaches and VPK teachers.

SB 468 also proposes providing struggling VPK students with the opportunity to enroll in a second year of VPK at their parent’s discretion. The bill now moves to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on PreK-12 Education.

The companion piece to this legislation, HB 757, passed the House Subcommittee on PreK-12 Innovation last month. HB 757 is sponsored by Representative Byron Donalds and Representative Jason Fischer.

House Bill 833 & Senate Bill 868 - Virtual Education for All:

Florida’s Virtual Education for All legislation, also sponsored by Representative Jennifer Sullivan, passed the House Education Committee with bipartisan support. HB 833 removes barriers so that all Florida students can participate in virtual instruction.

More than 900 Florida Virtual School students were not able to continue their education during the 2016-2017 school year because of arbitrary prior-year enrollment rules currently in place.

A companion piece to this legislation, SB 868, passed out of the Senate Education Committee on April 3. The legislation is sponsored by Senator Dennis Baxley.

House Bill 293 - Middle School Performance Study:

Legislation to study what other states are doing to beat the “Middle School Slump” and raise academic achievement in middle grades passed the House Education Committee with a unanimous vote on April 6.

The bill, sponsored by Representative Colleen Burton, directs the Florida Department of Education to conduct a study examining practices in states with high-performing middle schools.

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