July is Significant for Many Reasons

By Sen. William "Bill" Montford, FADSS CEO

The month of July is very significant as July 4th signifies the passage of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which declared the original colonies to be free from British rule.


As a kid, I fondly remember our family gatherings to celebrate July 4th in Blountstown, FL (only 2 red lights in the entire county of Calhoun). My mom made an amazing 20-layer cake that was the envy of every homemaker in the county. And even with the exact recipe, some things are extra special because of the person that makes it.

 

Similarly, an exceptional school district stands out because of exceptional leadership. As we all enjoy our July 4th festivities and celebrate the independence of our country, I will also be thinking of each of you and the exceptional leadership you provide for your school district.

 

It goes unnoticed by many that summer in school districts are exceptionally busy preparing for the upcoming school year. However, please try to get a little rest when you can.

 

July also marks the start of FADSS annual business partner program, and I want to take a moment to welcome and thank FADSS 2024 – 2025 annual partners for their year-round support of FADSS and Florida Superintendents.

 

I wish you all a fun and safe July 4th and look forward to seeing you at our FADSS Fall Conference in September!



Yours in education,


Bill 

ICYMI

On June 5th, the Pineapple Report hosted the 2nd Annual Excellence in Education Awards Ceremony, honoring exceptional individuals who have made profound contributions to the field of education. FADSS CEO Sen. William “Bill” Montford, Marion County Superintendent Dr. Diane Gullett and Indian River Superintendent Dr. David Moore were among the award recipients.


Dr. Gullett received the Leadership Award and Dr. Moore received the Academic Achievement Award.

The Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Pineapple Report, recognizing a lifetime of achievement and service to education, was presented to Sen. Montford for his numerous years of outstanding work and excellence in education. This prestigious award acknowledges his remarkable contributions and dedication to the field, showcasing his significant impact and extraordinary leadership in shaping the future of public education.

The FADSS Summer Road Show

By Brian Moore, FADSS General Counsel

This is the time of the year when FADSS staff are often out and about at various conferences and other events to help school districts digest the most recent legislative session and prepare for the next school year. Whether they are meeting with superintendents at the FSBA/FADSS joint conference, the school board attorneys, school safety specialists, school finance officers, or other groups, FADSS staff do their best to share information about the newest laws and facilitate discussion.


This year, thanks to the deregulation push in the Legislature, these discussions have been more focused on just a couple of big ticket items, and superintendents have an opportunity to work with their teams this summer to review and improve current programs rather than focusing most of their time on implementing multiple new legislative requirements. Obviously, the focus at the school safety conference hosted by the Florida Association of School Safety Specialists (FS3) and FADSS spent a lot of time addressing HB 1473 and the new requirements for doors, gates, and classroom markings. 


However, this has also been the focus of discussion in talks with superintendents, school board attorneys, and school finance officers. School safety is always a top priority in the districts, and it has been good to see everyone being able to focus on it this summer without also having to address numerous new mandates.


As the summer continues, FADSS will continue to work with districts and their leaders. I will be speaking at the Panhandle Area Education Consortium summer conference in a couple of weeks, visiting several districts to talk to their teams, meeting with the school board attorneys again, and then filming the ethics training at the end of August. 


As always, if there is anything that I or anyone on the FADSS team can do to help, we are just a phone call away.

Joint Conference Superintendent Only Sessions Recap and Resources

By Katrina Figgett, FADSS Director of Training

It was wonderful to see so many for our superintendent only sessions at the Joint conference in Tampa. We packed a lot into a short period, hopefully everyone found some time to converse with colleagues and came away with some useful information. 


We very much appreciate that Sr. Chancellor Miller and Chancellor Burns were able to join us to start our day with a discussion of current Florida Department of Education issues, one of which is the importance of helping students build resiliency. To support parents in helping their students the department has created the BuildResiliency.org website. Here parents can find downloadable resources for each of the 11 resiliency characteristics as well as reading lists with parent guides and information on becoming a resiliency coach.


Given the importance of School Safety we were pleased that FS3 Executive Director John Hunkier, Dept. of Juvenile Justice Secretary Eric Hall, and Deputy Secretary Adrienne Campbell were able to present to us. John highlighted best practices and legislative priorities as well as the FS3 Safety Summit that has now taken place and was a great success. Secretary Hall shared an update on Project Anchor, a partnership with Tallahassee State College, which is in its second year of operation, and a new program, the Florida Scholars Academy through the Florida Virtual School which will begin this July. Information on these and other services, along with contact information, can be found at https://www.djj.state.fl.us/services.


We heard about new programming and upcoming district grant opportunities from the Lastinger Center, and will hear more from them at upcoming conferences. Jennifer Wise provided information on one of the New Worlds Reading collaborations with UF IFAS, Books & Cooks, that brings families together through reading and cooking. The seven-week program includes take-home resources, weekly meal kits, cooking tools, and nutrition themed books, as well as classroom community support and class-night dinners. Currently in 6 districts the program is looking to expand, please email booksandcooks@ifas.ufl.edu for further information.


Last but not least, Grace Hanna from With Health discussed common eating disorders presenting in K-12 students, the potential impacts on their academic performance and development (all of which improve with early treatment), and policies and practices that can help prevent eating disorders and support students with them. Awareness of the signs of eating disorders is vital so that students of concern can be identified and referred quickly. Erin Kowalski will be happy to provide more information if needed.


We look forward to seeing you all in September for a great Fall Conference!

Interesting Takeaways from Volume III

of the PISA 2022 Results

June 18 saw the release of volume III of the PISA 2022 results. Volume III, Creative Minds, Creative Schools – is one of five volumes presenting the results of the 2022 (eighth round) of the PISA assessment. For the first time, in 2022, PISA assessed 15-year-old students’ capacity to engage in creative thinking in 64 countries and economies, defined as students’ capacity to produce original and diverse ideas. This volume describes student performance in creative thinking in different contexts and how creative thinking performance and attitudes vary across and within countries and economies. It examines differences in performance by student characteristics, including gender and socio-economic status, as well as school-characteristics.


The volume also offers an insight into school leader and teacher attitudes towards creative thinking, how opportunities for students to engage in creative thinking vary across schools, and how these factors are associated with student outcomes. Though students in the United States did not take part in the assessment of creative thinking the results make interesting reading, and the overall performance observations are likely true of students in this country: 


  • In no country or economy did boys outperform girls in creative thinking, with girls scoring 3 points higher in creative thinking on average across the OECD.
  • Students with higher socio-economic status performed better in creative thinking, with advantaged students scoring around 9.5 points higher than their disadvantaged peers on average across the OECD.
  • Girls performed particularly better than boys in written expression tasks and those requiring them to build on others’ ideas.
  • Around 8 out of 10 students (OECD average) believe that it is possible to be creative in nearly any subject. Students with positive beliefs about the nature of creativity scored around 3 score points higher in creative thinking than other students.
  • Indices of imagination and adventurousness, openness to intellect, curiosity, perspective taking, and persistence are positively associated with creative thinking performance. 
  • Classroom pedagogies can make a difference. Across OECD countries, between 60-70% of students reported that their teachers value their creativity, that they encourage them to come up with original answers, and that they are given a chance to express their ideas in school. These students scored slightly higher than their peers in creative thinking, even after accounting for students and school characteristics and their mathematics and reading performance.
  • ·Participating in school activities such as art, drama, creative writing or programming classes regularly (once a week) is associated with better performance in creative thinking than doing so infrequently or every day.


The full report can be accessed at https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/education/pisa-2022-results-volume-iii_765ee8c2-en.

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