Florida Dep. of Edu Doesn’t Care About Education

board-413157_960_720Every school board in Florida is experiencing teacher shortage. The reasons are many, but for the most part it is not because teachers are underpaid and hardly appreciated. The reason we are having teacher shortage is the fact that the new Florida Department of Education teacher certification test fails 50% of new teachers. The new teaching certification test is created to be “rigorous”, which means that it is created unreasonably hard, it doesn’t test what it means to test, but Pearson and the FDOE get to make millions on test fees for takes and retakes.

As a Florida parent, I admire the pursuit of “rigor” in the classroom. I want my kids teachers to be knowledgable and up to par. However, instead of providing our kids with best teachers our kids are now going to be in the hands of substitutes, who don’t need to have any certification. The lack of permanent teacher alone will create chaos in classrooms and disrupt education. How can Florida Department of Education say that they care about education if this is the outcome of their actions? This is the worst possible scenario.


Florida Teacher Test Scoring is Flawed Or….

GKT infoOn Tuesday two Florida teachers made their cases in court claiming that Florida teacher testing is flawed. Now, how is it flawed? Isn’t Florida rigorous? No, it’s not. Florida as a state has one of the worst educational systems in the country. The system is tough on both students and teachers. The present problem with teacher exams, especially General Knowledge Exam, is that 40% of teachers fail these tests. No one knows why or how. Well, we do know how and why.

This is why. Pearson and Florida Department of Education administer exams that they claim are research based. No one has ever seen this research. In the case that you have, please enlighten the rest of us. These tests are designed for teachers to fail, so that Pearson can profit from retakes that cost $200 per retake. More retakes, more money.

Now, teachers are saying that these tests cannot be valid if 40% of university graduates are failing these exams. What we should get to see is Pearson (British corporate giant) that rules American education system sit down with university professors who had graduated these failing teachers. Perhaps, Pearson can explain their rigorous process to American top notch professors. Unlike in other countries, where teachers are C students, American teachers are overachievers. They are smart, hard-working and motivated, despite being grossly underpaid. No one knows where is their drive for financial struggle coming from. They must really love their work. Only if they were not so poor.

What is even more appalling is the analysis of passing rates between different races and genders. Males fair the best, unless they are African Americans. Females, African Americans and Hispanics have the lowest passing teacher exam rates. Hm, what seems wrong about this? Is it possible that this test isn’t only designed for failure but is also created to fail minorities and women. ?????

Pearson’s History of Testing Problems -A List

Pearson Representative Claimed No Flaw in Their System:

Here is the Never Ending List: (Source: Washington Post)

1999-2000 Arizona – 12,000 tests misgraded due to flawed answer key
2000 Florida – Test score delivery delayed resulting in $4 million fine
2000 Minnesota – Misgraded 45,739  graduation tests leads to lawsuit with $11 million settlement – judge found “years of quality control problems” and a “culture emphasizing profitability and cost-cutting”
2000 Washington – 204,000 writing WASL exams rescored
2002 Florida – Dozens of school districts received no state grades for their 2002 scores because of a “programming error” at the DOE. One Montessori school never received scores because NCS Pearson claimed not to have received the tests.
2005 Michigan – Scores delayed and fines levied per contract
2005 Virginia  – Computerized test misgraded – five students awarded $5,000 scholarships
2005-2006 SAT college admissions test – 4400 tests wrongly scored; $3 million settlement after lawsuit (note FairTest was an expert witness for plaintiffs)
2007-2011 Mississippi – Subcontractor programs correct answer as incorrect resulting in erroneous results for almost four years during which time 126 students flunked the exam due to that wrongly scored item. Auditors criticized Pearson’s quality-control checks, and the firm offered $600,000 in scholarships as compensation

Continue With The List

What’s Wrong with Math Instruction?

math-1547018_960_720The United States Department of Education awarded $2.75 million grant to Canadian researchers to study implementation and effectiveness of JUMP Math (Canadian remedial math program that focuses on math fundamentals). The study took place in rural Ontario (rural Canada). The researchers found that math achievement improved and every child can learn math. Money well spent!

Of course every child can learn math. You can ask any teachers in the U.S. and they would have told you the same, saving you time and money. Plus, how does this study translates to the U.S. schools? Our curriculum is very different from Canadian. Our demographic is much different from rural Canada. The math concepts we cover do not parallel each other. The U.S. curriculum and benchmarks are substantially more advanced than Canadian. Thankfully, the obvious questions was answered. A huge number of the U.S. schools lack sufficient textbooks yet we fund studies that are completely irrelevant to every day classroom.

The question is not if our kids can learn math. The question is how we go about teaching math. We have also learned years ago that the discovery method of math instruction is not effective. Again, nothing new here. We need to stop answering the same question, and start asking questions that actually make a difference.

Why do kids have such hard time with high school math? Why do we have so many high school drop outs? In Canada, math is optional in the last two years of high school, otherwise students would not graduate high school. Instead of lowering graduating standards, we need to look at what makes the difference in math instruction. While programs like JUMP Math that focus on math fundamentals do make a difference, they don’t come close to answering the important question of building a math foundation that will carry students through middle, high school and university, successfully.

So, what works? Singapore math curriculum woks. Why? As successful European math instruction, Singapore math is visual, developmentally appropriate, it builds step by step, and even more importantly, it implements the elements of geometry throughout its K-12 curriculum. NY Eureka Math incorporates Singapore math and is completely free for individual use online. The reason most students find math difficult in high school isn’t the arithmetic (number sense), it is geometry. As someone who taught both elementary and high school math, I find that students truly struggle with geometry, and the problem is two fold. We don’t focus on geometry enough, and by the time students reach high school the gaps in knowledge of geometry are so large that most students simply don’t have the time to catch up. Asian and European students don’t struggle with math as their North American counterparts and it is all the result of learning gains accumulation.

Our shortsighted educational goals that only see the end of the year test score, undermine the best interest of students, schools, and our society.

Lets get serious.
Mrs. Lena, M.Ed.



Flipping Classroom in Your First Year of Teaching

Flipping Classroom in Your First Year of Teaching

flipped Most people who are teachers and/or parents have already heard of the flipped classroom concept. The idea is that instead of sitting in a teacher led lecture in the classroom, students watch a lecture video at home on their PC or a tablet, and when they go to school the next day they already have completed a quiz/questions and are ready to finish mastering the concepts.

Flipping can be done for all subjects, but it is most intensely used for mathematics. In essence, flipping the classroom is having students work ahead. I have had bright students who learn different do this for years now, but really, working ahead by being introduced to a concept prior to the class time allows students to sort their learning and it makes it easier for the teacher to assess the gaps in understanding.

For a first year, fifth grade teacher, flipped classroom for math and language arts is an amazing time saver. As a new teacher, you’ll have to learn that children all have different learning styles and flipped classroom will shorten the time of your reteaching response, which is crucial for learning and instruction. It cuts your assessment time in half and increases the likelihood of content mastery for all students.

The main question when it comes to actually implementing the flipped classroom is which type of media resources will you use. Will they be made by the teacher or someone else? Do they align with your state benchmarks and do they provide adequate instruction?  And of course, what type of post assessment is provided.

Flipped Learning Network is a good starting point. https://flippedlearning.eduvision.tv/default.aspx

Good luck flipping!

Lena, M. Ed.

Grade 5 Math – Pre -Algebra & Middle School Math

grade 5 math common coreThere is a lot of talk about encouraging students to take pre-algebra and algebra in middle school. It prepares them to progress to other higher level math courses. It also increases the high school and college graduation rates. Yet the trajectory for advanced math curriculum doesn’t start in middle school. It starts much earlier. It really begins in 3rd grade and it gets intense in grade 5. After finishing grade 5, most students in North American schools have the concepts of pre-algebra taught and assessed. With the implementation of Common Core Standards, the math curriculum will become more uniform across board. Nevertheless, testing aside, we want our students to do well in every grade. Inquire with anyone who has taught math remediation and intervention and you will hear that students have trouble with grade 5 math concepts. And there is no escaping it. Unless the concepts are mastered, students can’t progress to the next level. Unfortunately, the end of grade 5 is the beginning of a huge transition to middle school, growth, and changes. Lets help our students and kids stay on task and succeed.

Main pre-algebra concepts are: Fractions, decimals, percents; Fractions and Mixed Numbers; Long Division & Multiplication ; Measurement & Statistics.

“Grade 5 Math” Worksheets 



CCSS.Math.Content.5.NF.A.2., CCSS.Math.Content.5.NF.B.4.,


MAFS.5.NBT.1.1 - Florida Math Grade 5

MAFS.5.NBT.1.1 – Florida Math Grade 5 

MAFS.5.NBT.1.1 lesson plan

Recognize that in multi-digit number, a digit in one place represents 10 times as it represents in the place to its right and 1/10 of what it represents in the place to its left.
This 11 page lesson: includes step by step visuals, instruction, and practice.
– numbers in expanded form
– place value
– decimal point in division and multiplication
– patterns in multiplication & division

Happy Teaching! 

Mrs. Lena, M. Ed. 

Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion – by Burns

Interest Level Grades: 6 – 12                                   Tracking Trash by Burns
Reading Level Grade level Equivalent: 10.9
Lexile Measure®: 1200
DRA: Not Available
Guided Reading: NR
General Nonfiction
Environmental Conservation and Preservation
Oceans, Lakes, Rivers

Summary: Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion by Loree Griffin Burns is a perfect earth science book for grade 6 – 12. This picture book for older kids, is much more than a story of floating duckies and Nike shoes. It’s a story of interconnectedness of nature, science, and humans. Concepts included; ocean currents formation, Coriolis Effect, gyres, longitude & latitude, Flotsam and jetsam, the garbage patch, the effects of plastic and fish net pollution in the ocean, and solutions.

For the “Tracking Trash:Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion” AP / Science Lesson Unit, go to: SC.7.E.6.6.SC.912.L.17.16.SC.912.L.17.20.SC.912.L.17.17.,

Related AP Lesson Plans: 

Earthquakes – AP and STEM Lesson PlanSC.7.E.6.5.,

Continental Drift and Plate Tectonics – AP and STEM Lesson Plan: SC.7.E.6.5.  

Weathering and Erosion – AP and STEM Lesson PlanSC.4.E.6.4,  SC.6.E.6.1,

Animal Adaptation – Grade 4 and 5 Lesson Plan – Science & STEM –  SC.5.L.17.1

Renewable and Non-Renewable Energy – SC.912.L.17.11.SC.912.L.17.12.,

Fossils Lesson  – Grades 6-12 SC.7.L.15.1, SC.912.E.6.3, SC.7.E.6.5, SC.912.E.6.3,

 Biotic and Abiotic Elements in Ecosystem – Red Tide ; Grades 8-12; SC.912.L.17.7



“K – 12 Student Database Jazzes Tech Startups, Spooks Parents” Disturbing? Sure.

kidsread-sandpic“A $100 million database built to chart the academic paths of public school students from kindergarten through high school.”

This database apparently already holds files on millions of students, who are identified by name, address, social security number, disability, attitude, hobbies, career goals,…

In so many words, technology at its worst. This information on our children/students will be shared with private companies that sell educational products and services to whomever is deemed to have a “legitimate educational interest”.

What does that even mean? And who is the person deciding what is a legitimate educational interest?

In 2008, the personal information of nearly every student in Sarasota County, Florida, was made public on the Internet due to the mistake of the private company hired by the county. The student records were online for almost 2 months (http://m2.tbo.com/content/2008/aug/20/200829/fla-student-test-scores-online-security-breach/).

             Of course, the educational companies will try their sales pitch in which they will reassure parents of the ways this database will allow for curtailing of instruction so that little Johnny can learn decimals through a baseball game. In the end, it all comes to selling school districts material with the sole purpose of obtaining huge contracts and making profit.

              I am all for offering students better instruction. The one size fits all never worked and failed most kids. We can reach that through technology and teacher training instead of tracking students’ progress in a mass database that will only place students in boxes with labels and cause a great privacy issue.

Reading links:

“K-12 Student Database Jazzes Tech Startups, Spooks Parents”, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/03/us-education-database-idUSBRE92204W20130303

“Sarasota Student Test Scores Online In Security Breach”, http://m2.tbo.com/content/2008/aug/20/200829/fla-student-test-scores-online-security-breach/

Stay informed!

Get involved!

Lena, M. Ed.