Florida should create an "early warning system" for middle schools that would identify students who are failing classes, struggling on standardized tests and missing too much school, according to an education panel of the Florida House.
A proposed bill by the K-12 subcommittee wants a system that would help identify students "who need additional support to improve academic performance and stay engaged in school."
The system would alert if students: failed language arts or math classes, missed school more than 10 percent of the time, scored very poorly on the state's standardized math and reading exams or were suspended.
Schools would have to work on "intervention strategies" for those students, after meeting, if possible, with the parents. The goal would be to help students early on who look to be at risk for dropping out of high school.
Such efforts are worthy -- but already take place, educators said.
"That is happening now in middle schools," said Robin Dehlinger, the administrator who oversees middle schools for the Seminole County school district. "I don’t see anything mentioned there that is not something schools already do."
Seminole's 12 middle schools, for example, identify students based on a number of risk factors, including those who are struggling in class and missing a lot of school.
They are hooked up with an intervention teacher, who works to s arrange extra academic help and sometimes mentoring and referrals to any needed health or social services, Dehlinger said.
Classroom teachers also review their own data, looking for worrisome numbers of absentees, poor grades and low test scores.
The goal is the same of the new legislation -- to help struggling students before they start high school and the countdown to graduation.
"If you’re paying attention to these signs along the
way, you can help them now instead of waiting until later," Dehlinger said.
The bill touches on other aspects of middle school education, too, requiring the Florida Department of Education to help teachers "integrate digital instruction into their classrooms," adding "hazing" to the list of middle school discipline infractions and providing more funding for "industry certification" classes.
The committee is to discuss the proposed bill at its meeting Wednesday in Tallahassee.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun