JPEF conducts independent analysis and research on best practices to bring innovation and data to decision-makers, including school leaders and administrators within Duval County Public Schools and other public school operators.
Choosing a School
In Duval County today, parents are presented with more options than ever and sorting through the education landscape has been described as a “full time job.” Below are some factors and questions, based on previous conversations with parents, to consider asking schools about when making this important decision.
Understanding Literacy in Duval County
In 2021, the Jacksonville Public Education Fund convened with Kids Hope Alliance, Duval County Public Schools, READ USA, WJCT, Jacksonville Public Library, and others along with Lectio Consulting to plan out the initial stages of the “READJAX” Campaign, with the goal of improving 3rd grade literacy in Duval County. This brief summarizes available background literature, literacy data, and community data that has informed this campaign. We will continue to track the progress and impact of the campaign.
This brief, which is made possible by financial support from The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, describes how Duval parents, across all demographic categories (such as race, zipcode, and education), share similar beliefs about the importance of early literacy to later success but some are likely facing complicated barriers to being as involved as they want to be. In combination with Duval County student population trends over the past three years becoming increasingly diverse and in economic need, all the data included suggest collective efforts are needed to improve literacy rates across Duval County through systemic change and culturally responsive engagement of students, teachers, and families.
Spring 2022: Skills of the Future, a Landscape Analysis
The Jacksonville Public Education Fund drew on previous research from various organizations including UNF and STEM2Hub in order to identify community stakeholders who could help us answer the question: What skills do students need to succeed in the 21st century workforce? JPEF conducted interviews and focus groups with educators and a variety of employers to compare their perspectives on what skills students need to be successful in the workforce and what challenges they face reaching those needs. JPEF also critically examined the offerings and any publicly available data of 40+ STEM and CTE programs available in Duval County to answer the question: What opportunities exist for Duval County students to develop interest and skills in STEM and CTE fields?
In October 2021, JPEF announced a the start of a new initiative called “1,000 by 2025” with the purpose of recruiting and retaining 1,000 Black and Latino male educators by the year 2025. Given that disproportionalities in student and teacher racial representation continue to persist despite the decades of research that has connected teacher diversity to benefits for all students and that DCPS is serving an increasingly racially diverse student population, more work needs to be done to understand the conditions that make it more or less likely for Black and Latino teachers to persist in DCPS. This qualitative study aimed to explore what barriers and motivations may exist for Black and Latino men in the classroom today; and what hopes and concerns they might have for this initiative.
Summer 2021: Case Study: Building a Trauma-Informed Public School
Research has shown that trauma can disrupt cognitive processes that are essential for learning. The field of trauma-informed care offers hope for educators who want to better serve students who have experienced trauma. The Jacksonville Public Education Fund, as an independent think-and-do tank that pilots and scales research-based practices in public schools, has been supporting principals to learn about and implement trauma-informed care in their schools.
Across the country, millions of students that were expected to enroll in school last Fall did not show up. Because education funding follows the student, enrollment drops could lead to funding losses that have lasting impacts on all public school students. In this brief, the Jacksonville Public Education Fund will discuss the funding implications of the pandemic for Florida students and make several recommendations to ensure equitable outcomes for students.
Winter 2021: Teacher Recruitment and Retention in Duval County
Teacher recruitment and retention is a nationwide challenge, and the research shows Duval County is keeping pace with several innovative initiatives to recruit and retain teachers. An analysis of three years of data from Duval County Public Schools showed that Duval County’s teacher retention rate is about 84 percent year-to-year across the entire district, and about 75 percent year-to-year in the average school. The study also found a mismatch between student demographics and teacher demographics. For example, Black students make up about 45 percent of the student body, while Black teachers make up only 29 percent of the teacher workforce. Black male teachers make up less than 6 percent of the teacher workforce.
- Download the brief here.
- Watch the video
- Read the press release
- Read the story in the Florida Times-Union
As a city striving for economic vibrancy and civic vitality, Jacksonville has for the last decade put public education at the top of its agenda, knowing that helping all children meet their potential will make the city stronger. For more than a year, our community has been discussing a half-penny sales tax to repair and replace our aging school buildings. Duval County has the oldest school buildings in the state of Florida, and 30% are in poor or very poor condition.
- Read online: Read the student achievement and school facilities brief here.
- Download the PDF: Download the student achievement and school facilities brief here.
Teaching has largely lost its luster to the millennial generation, with declining enrollment in colleges of education across the country. According to JPEF's 2017-18 Public Education Perceptions Poll, millennials residing in Jacksonville believe, on average, that teachers deserve a significantly higher salary than community members who are 65 and older. How can education systems recruit and retain new teachers from the millennial generation? This one-pager offers three recommendations.
What is a high-quality teacher? From our survey of the 2017-2018 school-level Teachers of the Year, three key themes emerged to answer the question of what it means to be a high-quality educator. From their responses—a high-quality teacher should be able to (1) understand the individual needs of their students, (2) build strong relationships with students and their families and (3) drive positive academic results. Download the teacher quality brief here.
Teachers are the single most important school-based factor for student achievement. That is why we need high quality teachers in front of our children who are prepared to deliver high quality instruction and support. Implementing a multi-measure evaluation system that includes the appropriate evidence-based components with fidelity is the best way to get a more accurate picture of quality and the impact that teachers are having in the classroom. Student learning growth and classroom observations are two of the most critical components. Student surveys are as a strong third component for teacher evaluations. Download the teacher evaluation one-pager here.
Duval County Public Schools finds itself at a crossroads with the impending departure of Superintendent Nikolai Vitti. Following significant improvements to public education since 2012, where does Duval go from here? How will the Duval County School Board go about appointing a successor? What are some of the key factors that make for a successful superintendent search, and what are the lessons learned from previous searches? This report reviews the background of the previous search, considerations for today’s context and reviews research on what makes for a good match between school boards and superintendents.
There is considerable evidence that greater socioeconomic and racial diversity in schools results in better academic and social outcomes for students. But here in our own community, we often find ourselves geographically separated by race and income level. While exploring Duval County school enrollment patterns, we found that African-American students are much more likely than students of any other race to attend schools that are not racially diverse. Download the Diversity Brief Here
School grades were introduced in Florida in 1999, the first such A – F model for reporting on school accountability in the nation. The purpose of school grades was to make it easy for parents and citizens to understand and compare how schools were performing academically, and to compel low-performing schools to improve. In this brief, we take a closer look at how the school grades calculation formula works, identify the sources of some of the most prominent issues of confusion in recent years and offer suggestions for how to address these issues now to avoid further problems down the road. Download the School Grades Brief Here
The landscape of school choice options in public education has been expanding faster than ever over the past decade, nationwide and especially in Florida. With this expansion has come an unprecedented array of new decisions that parents and guardians must learn to navigate as they seek the best school for their children. Options available to students now — from traditional neighborhood schools to charter schools, virtual schools and private schools, among others — can differ greatly in terms of curriculum and testing requirements, classroom structures, application procedures, parent requirements and more. This report takes a closer look at the evolution and impact of various school choice options in Duval County. Download the School Choice Brief Here
What exactly do we know about what’s happening with the teachers we have now? In this report, we take a closer look at what is happening in Duval County by examining placement, movement and retention patterns of over 2,000 new teachers over the past ten years. We found that Duval County is losing on average about one of every two new teachers within the first five years of their employment. Download the Patching the Pipeline brief here.
In the fall of 2011, the Jacksonville Public Education Fund set out with the help of dozens of volunteers on an effort to go into every part of our community and hear first-hand the hopes, concerns, questions and ideas that the citizens of Duval County have for the future of education in our community – in their own words. Over the course of the past year, and 161 face-to-face conversations with nearly 1,600 community members in homes, businesses, churches, and other organizations throughout every region of the county — we have done just that. In this report, we present the findings of what was heard.
Technological advances over the last few decades have revolutionized the way we live, work and interact at an unprecedented pace. As a result, the landscape of our economy has also experienced a rapid shift in the demand for highly-skilled workers possessing at least some advanced or specialized education beyond high school. In this issue, we take a closer look at what it means to be college and career ready, and what Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) is doing to promote postsecondary readiness for all its students. We found a number of compelling statistics and critical areas of reform needed to create a strategic and supportive college access pipeline for all students in DCPS and beyond. Download the College and Career Readiness Brief Here.
In 2010, 69% of 3rd graders in Duval County Public Schools were reading on or above grade level by the end of the year. At the same time, this could be said of only 33% of our 10th graders. What is happening between elementary school and high school to cause such a drastic decline in the reading achievement levels of our students, and what can we learn from studying this trend about how to better support and improve their performance all the way through school? Download the Reading Proficiency Brief Here
Since 2008, significant reductions in state spending have caused serious cuts to public education in Duval County. School funding is a volatile and emotional issue, and it is complicated. In this brief, the Jacksonville Public Education Fund brings forward the facts: Duval County Public Schools does not have enough money to adequately implement state and federal mandates on top of the state constitution's requirement to provide a "uniform, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools" for all students.
Public Education Perception Polls
Each year from 2013 to 2019, JPEF has conducted a poll of Duval County residents to understand their views on public education and their priorities for our public schools. See how the community feels from year to year about the education system in Duval County.
- May 2019: Public Opinion on Taxes for Schools
- 2018-2019 Annual Public Education Perceptions Poll
- 2017-2018 Annual Public Education Perceptions Poll
- 2016-2017 Annual Public Education Perceptions Poll
- 2015 Annual Public Education Perceptions Poll
- 2014 Annual Public Education Perceptions Poll
- 2013 Annual Public Education Perceptions Poll