The last year has been a busy one for public education, both here in Duval County and across the state and nation. In 2014, we saw a year of significant chance and significant hope for public education.
Take a look at our picks for the top 5 stories, and the top blog posts on jaxpef.org in 2014, then share your thoughts in the comments below! What do you think were the top issues in public education?
- Testing and accountability. This year, the state Legislature passed a new school grading forumla. And schools in Duval County and across the state implemented the new Florida Standards. But the growing concerns with how schools and students will be evaluated on the new Florida Standards will continue to dominate the statewide education policy discussion in Florida in 2015.
- Violence in Jacksonville. Our recent poll shows that crime is a major concern to residents of Duval County. Jacksonville's response to the recent tide of violence, particularly involving young people of color, didn't get nearly the attention it deserved this past year, but recent efforts from Pastor John Guns and Superintendent Nikolai Vitti show some promise as we head into the new year.
- Quality Education for All Fund. The investments of the QEA Fund were fully under way this school year. The $50 million private investment is all focused around recruiting, retaining and supporting great teachers and leaders in the 36 QEA schools, which include Ribault, Raines and Jackson high schools and their feeder pattern middle and elementary schools. You can learn more about the fund at www.QEAFund.org.
- Marketing, school choice and middle school reform. This has been a central focus for the local schools this year. Duval County Public Schools unveiled a new branding and a new Public Education Strong marketing campaign. The school board considered but ultimately passed on an open enrollment plan, and passed a plan to improve the district's middle schools. Want to learn more about school choice? Go to jaxpef.org/SchoolChoice to see the results of a parent survey and find out what's available in Duval County.
- Rise in graduation rate. Yesterday, the year capped off with some great news about Duval County's graduation rate, which is at a historic high of 74 percent and improving faster than the state-wide average. Check out the full results here.
So these are what we see as the top stories, but what do you think? Ready to talk about where our city stands in the progress of public education over the last year? Join us on January 31, 2015 for the Third Annual ONE by ONE Convention!
Share your thoughts in the comments and apply today for the ONE by ONE Convention.
-- Deirdre Conner & Ale'ta Turner
P.S. Here were the top five blog posts on jaxpef.org this year:
- Our top read blog post was actually from 2013! When some news came out about value-added measurement for teachers, Google searchers read this primer on VAM in droves.
- The second most-read blog post was this March post about the announcement of the new test to evaluate student performance on the Florida Standards.
- Another popular post was our take on Dr. Vitti's open enrollment proposal.
- Testing continued to be a hot topic, with many readers checking out this post on a new website where parents and educators could find information about the new Florida Standards Assessment, and this recap of the latest FCAT score releases.
- Finally, some of our most popular posts have been related to our policy briefs this year, including one on School Grades, and another on School Choice.