News Slices:
SUNLINK Provides Resources At Your Fingertips

Seeds of Success:

Branching Out:



February 23, 2007
Vol. 1, Issue 3

News Slices

2007 College Goal Sunday
On Sunday, Feb. 25, Florida will once again take part in College Goal Sunday. Sponsored by the Lumina Foundation, College Goal Sunday is a national effort aimed at providing high school students with assistance completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is a required application for anyone who is interested in receiving financial aid for colleges, universities, and vocational schools. The event is specifically aimed at reaching low-income, first generation, and minority students and assisting those students in filling out the financial aid forms.

This year, 49 sites in 42 counties will participate – which is more than double the number of sites from last year. During its first year, Florida ranked third in target audience attendance. Because of last year’s success, Florida was selected as the training site for the 10 new states beginning their College Goal Sunday program in 2008.

New Center For Math & Science Announced
Governor Charlie Crist on Wednesday announced the opening of the Florida Center for Research in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, and the establishment of the Office for Math and Science in the Department of Education. As part of Governor Crist’s announcement to increase math and science achievement in Florida schools, he honored Florida State University (FSU) as the award recipient to oversee the new research center.

Funded by the Florida Legislature with a two million dollar grant, the Florida Center for Research in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics will conduct research and use these research-based findings to support the Office for Math and Science in the Department. The center will be led by Sir Harold Kroto, co-recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and an ardent advocate for K-12 science education worldwide.

The Office for Math and Science will oversee the development and implementation of new world-class math and science standards, develop and deliver professional development for teachers, and coordinate all state and federally funded programs in these subject areas. The Center will support the Department of Education’s efforts to increase the rigor and relevance of secondary programs to increase the number of students who graduate prepared for postsecondary education and the workforce.

Testing Around The Corner
Students throughout Florida are gearing up for the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test®, or FCAT. The test is an important measuring tool that helps determine what students have learned based on the Sunshine State Standards (SSS), and identifies where students may need help. The FCAT SSS measures a student’s knowledge of reading, writing, math and science benchmarks – learning expectations set for each subject and grade level. The test is custom-designed for Florida students, by Florida teachers, and is not used in any other state.

Parents can obtain more information about the test, review sample test questions and previously administered tests taken by actual students by going to <%= FCAT_root %>/fcatkeys.asp. Following are some tips to improve performance for students:

  • Think positively. Some questions may seem hard, but others will be easy.
  • Relax and do your best.
  • Read the directions carefully.
  • Read carefully, and answer the questions you are sure about first. If a question seems too difficult, skip it, and go back to it later.
  • Be sure to fill in the answer bubbles completely. Do not make any stray marks on the answer sheet.
  • Check each answer.
  • Check to make sure the test question number matches the answer choice number on the answer sheet or answer book.

Following are some teacher tips provided by Florida teachers regarding preparing for the test:

  • Plan lessons creatively, teach the standards and make learning fun.
  • Utilize FCAT practice materials only as supplemental materials.
  • Take pressure off students by letting them know you have confidence in them.
  • At testing time, advise students to get a good night’s sleep, eat breakfast, relax and show what they know.

Florida a Perfect "10"
Education Commissioner John L. Winn recently announced that Florida is the first state in the nation to be recognized by the Data Quality Campaign for having the 10 elements necessary to build a longitudinal data system. What is a “longitudinal data system”? It is a system that follows each student from the time they begin school until postsecondary education and the workforce.

The data includes the student's performance on annual tests, grades in subjects, reading level and others. Rather than focusing on one segment of a student's education such as elementary school, states are called to follow students from the beginning, until the end of their education. The Data Quality Campaign is a national, collaborative effort that urges state policymakers to improve the collection, availability, and use of high-quality education data to improve student achievement. For the full story, visit

State Board of Education Meeting Recap
The State Board of Education met in Tallahassee on Tuesday to discuss the approval of the Education Commissioner job description, 2007-08 legislative agenda, teacher performance pay plans, class size transfer calculations, charter school appeals, community college baccalaureate proposals and other issues.

The Board approved the 2007 legislative priorities, which include establishing a statewide bonus program in law to recognize and reward outstanding educators and instructional personnel for improving student achievement, strengthening the mentoring component of the Dale Hickam Excellent Teaching Program and developing an incentive-based mentoring program to encourage more teachers to participate, recommending that the process for revising and adopting Sunshine State Standards be strengthened in law, supporting Governor Crist’s goal to have a reading coach in every Florida school, and recommending expanding weighted funding for middle school students who pass certain high school courses. To view the full report from the meeting, visit

SUNLINK Provides Resources At Your Fingertips
SUNLINK ( is Florida's K-12 online catalog of such items as books, publications, etc., and is used in more than 2,700 public schools' library media centers. SUNLINK helps you find books and non-print materials in your school, district, region or anywhere in Florida. Users can search by title, author, subject, keyword, location, language, format, reading level or any combination of these to find what you need. If the title is in your school, you can get it from your library media specialist; if not, you can ask for it to be borrowed from another school. You can also find educational Web sites that have been selected for K-12 students, avoiding the thousands of irrelevant hits a regular search engine may give you.

SUNLINK also offers teacher resources, including a daily lesson plan, tools for administrators, information for students and parents and so much more. SUNLINK is funded by the Florida Department of Education and administered through a grant to the College of Education at the University of Central Florida.

Seeds of Success

Hillsborough County Schools Selected to Participate in National Project

The College Board recently announced that Hillsborough County Public Schools have been selected to participate in a project to overcome the "advantage gap" among students in urban school districts. The four-year project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, aims to increase the level of student aspirations and academic performance while preparing more students for postsecondary success. For the full story, visit

Polk Community College Leader Named to Florida Women's Hall of Fame
Maryly Van Leer Peck, president emeritus of Polk Community College, was recently named to the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame.

Peck, 76, was born to a family of engineers and earned three degrees in that field from Vanderbilt University and the University of Florida. While in Guam as a missionary for 11 years, she ran a preparatory school and was dean of the College of Business and Applied Technology at the University of Guam. In 1982, she became the first female president of a Florida community college. She remained in that position at Polk until retiring in 1997.

Others named by Governor Crist to the Hall of Fame included Kathy Herrmann Catino, chief executive officer of the Shelter for Abused Women and Children in Naples, and Justice Peggy Quince.

Broward Community College To Receive Leadership Grant
Broward Community College (BCC) is one of 10 colleges and universities in the United States recently named as a recipient of an HP Technology for Teaching Higher Education Leadership grant. The HP Award package is valued at more than $120,000.

All 10 of the grant winners were previous recipients of HP Technology for Teaching higher education grants and were invited to apply for additional investment support. BCC received its Technology for Teaching grant in 2005 and used the funds and equipment valued at $74,000 to redesign the general biology laboratory curriculum.

BCC was selected for reinvestment because of its success integrating HP technology into the classroom curriculum, demonstrating a measurable, positive impact on student achievement and proposing innovative plans to expand and sustain new approaches to teaching and learning.

Branching Out

“Redesigning Teacher Compensation: A Blueprint For Success”
May 14-15, 2007
Orlando, Fla.
Join the Florida Department of Education as we host the first national conference on the redesign of teacher compensation. This event will feature general sessions with keynote speakers, panels and roundtable discussions from experts in the field at district, state and national levels. Presenters include prominent researchers, United States Department of Education staff, state legislators, district superintendents, and representatives from other states. Education policy makers with an interest in teacher compensation are encouraged to attend. Issues to be covered include base salary, performance pay, incentive pay, and more. Conference registration and agenda will be available after March 1.

2007 DOE Information Database Workshop
June 19-21, 2007
Orlando, Fla.
Mark your calendars for the DOE Information Database Workshop, June 19-21, 2007, at the Florida Hotel & Conference Center in Orlando. This year, the conference will cover updates on procedures and requirements related to the DOE Information Database system. Additionally, it will provide an overview of the state’s current student, staff and finance database requirements for technical and program staff in your district. MIS, FTE, Finance, Student and Staff personnel are encouraged to attend. The workshop will also provide an overview of the state’s current student, staff, and finance database requirements for both technical and program staff for districts. Register today at

For further assistance, please contact Arlene Roberts at or call (850) 245-0400 or SC 205-0400.

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