Tony Bennett Takes the Reins in Florida as CAPE Act Shows Promise

Tony Bennett Takes the Reins in Florida as CAPE Act Shows Promise

FLORIDA FLOURISHES?: It's official: In a highly anticipated move, the Florida Board of Education unanimously voted in Tony Bennett (soon to be Indiana's former super) as the Sunshine State's next education commissioner. In an obligatory move, the Florida Education Association issued a statement labeling Bennett a "champion of the testing mania" and proponent of "the Jeb Bush education agenda that has drawn fire from teachers, parents and experts in the field."

It looks like an uphill battle for the FEA if it hopes to sway Bennett in a different direction. In the recently released TIMSS report, Florida eighth graders scored, on average, 28 points higher than the national average in the US -- a high point in otherwise dismal results that will be attributed rightly or wrongly to the "Jeb Bush education agenda." (Here are details.) 

In other related news, Grunwald Associates has just released a preliminary analysis of Florida's Career and Professional Education (CAPE) Act passed in 2007. The legislation makes it possible for Florida middle and high schoolers to enroll in "career-themed courses that articulate to postsecondary-level coursework and lead to industry certification." (The first round of companies involved include the likes of Microsoft, Cisco and the Federal Aviation Administration). The analysis finds that:

..."high school students who took at least one technology course, and at least one industry certification exam, had better attendance and higher grade point averages (GPAs)..." 

than peers when adjusted for demographics. With just a year's worth of data, the report notes that all findings are correlational and not causal, but we're guessing the state board is pretty giddy over the results. The analysis also provides ten starting points for additional research for states and districts looking towards similar initiatives. Among them: "Consider whether social connections that emerge from technology coursework influence attendance." 

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