Q: Can you give an update on the Great Hearts Academy charter school and how the newly passed bill by the legislature will affect charter schools in the future?
A: On June 7, the School Board will vote on the Great Hearts Academy application at the School Board meeting, which will begin at 6 p.m. Public comment is welcome and this will be the last opportunity to vote locally on a charter school application in light of recently passed legislation. Senate Bill 758/House Bill 865 creates the Charter School Review Commission (CSRC), a seven-member board appointed by the State Board of Education to operate within the Florida Department of Education. The CSRC will review and approve charter schools to be sponsored and supervised by district school boards where the charter schools are located, removing the school district from the authorization and approval process. This means that going forward, charter school applications for Duval County will be approved without input from our local school board.

Q: Can you comment on another recently passed education bill that deals with end of year (FSA) testing?
A: The state’s current assessment system will be replaced in 2022 – 23 by a standardized system of coordinated screening and progress monitoring from Pre-K through second grade in math and English Language Arts. The current Florida Standards Assessments (FSA) will be replaced in grades three through eight math and grades three through 10 English Language Arts with progress monitoring and a comprehensive final assessment. The tests will occur near the beginning of the year, near mid-year and end with a comprehensive exam similar to the current FSA.

The scores will still be used for school grades, teacher evaluations and student retention and graduation. The tests are required to be computer-adaptive by the 2023 – 24 school year and results will be returned by May 31, beginning in 2024. Detailed results are to be returned to teachers within one week and parents within two weeks.

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The bill also requires a taskforce be set up to study the testing results with an eye towards reducing student assessments by using results from the first two assessments. “Hold harmless” provisions for the 2022 – 23 school year include the first year of implementation for school turnaround, virtual school, high-performing charter schools and school districts, along with good cause exemptions for third grade retention, and high school graduation. The bill sets the baseline for school grades using the 2021 – 22 results for the first year of the new assessments to the 2023 – 24 school grades.

The state has not yet identified the software to be used to measure student growth and progress.

Q: Do you have anything else to share with District 7?
A: I have a couple of things. First, Mandarin High School girls brought in a pair of state championships: a shot put crown by DaMoni Kelly and the other in the 400 by Terren Peterson. The Mustangs placed five athletes and a relay team in the top five of their events. As a team, Mandarin finished third.

Also, congratulations to the Class of 2022! I hope everyone has a great summer. I’d like to encourage summer reading by reminding everyone, “Reading 20 minutes a day paves the way!”

Q: How can our readers contact you?
A: They can email me at HersheyL@duvalschools.org or call me at (904) 390-2375.

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