Florida Session Week 6 Highlights: Preparing Students for a Changing Future

Florida Session Week 6 Highlights: Preparing Students for a Changing Future

Friday, February 16, 2018
This week, policy makers focused their efforts on advancing legislation that engages students in their learning goals and prepares them for a rapidly changing future. 
  • Legislation to expand computer science education and provide incentives for teachers passes the House’s PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee.  
  • Personalized learning legislation giving participating school districts greater flexibility passes its final committee assignment in the House.  
  • House Education Committtee members pass an amendment to establish Reading Scholarship Accounts for struggling public school students in grades 3 to 5. 

Personalized Learning
On Thursday, the House Education Committee considered legislation that provides flexibility to school districts participating in Florida’s Mastery-Based Education Pilot program and allows interested districts to participate. 

HB 1035, sponsored by Representative Jennifer Sullivan, passed the committee with several school district representatives speaking in support of the legislation. Through the Mastery-Based Education Pilot program, districts are able to create programs where students are empowered to play a greater role in their learning, which is then tailored to the student’s unique strengths, interests and needs. 

What does personalized learning look like in Florida?
Representative Jennifer Sullivan recently met with students participating in Seminole County Public School's PSI High, where students join teams with their peers and teachers to solve real community, business, and social problems. Seminole County is one of four public school districts participating in Florida's Mastery-Based Pilot program. 

Before committee passage, Representative Manny Diaz, Jr. offered two amendments to the bill that also focus on customizing a child’s education. One amendment clarifies who can provide tutoring services to students participating in the Gardiner Scholarship program for students with disabilities.  

The other amendment establishes Reading Scholarship Accounts for students in grades 3-5 who are reading significantly below grade level. English learners who apply to the program would receive priority. Through the program, participating families would be reimbursed up to $500 for expenses to give their child reading instruction/tutoring in addition to what they receive in public school. It is estimated the program will serve more than 19,000 students.  

HB 1035 now moves to the full House for consideration. 

Computer Science 
Legislation to expand computer science education passed the House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee on Tuesday, February 13. HB 1213, sponsored by Representative Elizabeth Porter, now moves to House Education Committee.

The legislation expands computer science education and provides incentives for teachers to be trained to teach these innovative courses.  

A similar piece of legislation, SB 1056, sponsored by Senator Kathleen Passidomo, unanimously passed the Senate PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee on February 8 and is headed to the Appropriations Committee. 

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