2014 Final Legislative Report

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The Home Education Foundation

The Home Education Foundation Newsletter

Home Educators' Voice At The Capitol - Florida
Providing information and insights to Florida Home Educators July 2014
In This Issue

CS/CS/SB 850 Educationtion

PLSA

CAPE Digital Tool    Certifications

HB 5101
Education Funding


Computer science and technology instruction

Florida National Merit Scholar Incentive Program

Statewide Internet-based Catalog of Postsecondary Distance Learning Courses

Dual Enrollment

HB 7031 Education

Uniform Transfer of High School Credits

CS/CS/SB 188
Education Data Privacy

Limitations on collection of information and disclosure of confidential and exempt student records

Florida Student Identification Numbers

HB 5001 General Appropriation Act (Budget)

FRAG
Bright Futures


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The This is a summary of the issues that are of interest to home education and private school parents from the 2014 Legislative Session. You may read the full text of the bill at the links provided in this document. 

NOTE: The issues are listed below by their Bill Number.  The text of these bills has not yet been incorporated into Florida Statutes; therefore you can only view the language in the bills.

CS/CS/SB 850 Education

Personal Learning Scholarship Account Program (PLSA)

See the Bill here

(creates a new section of law s. 1002.385 F.S.)

The PLSA provides funding for the parent of a child with certain disabilities to help better meet the individual educational needs of the child in a home education program or private school. See our website on the PLSA:  www.specialneedskidsathome.com

Program Requirements:
A Parent must register the child for attendance purposes in parochial, religious, denominational, private school or in a home education program.

To be eligible for the PLSA, a student must be a Florida resident in grades K-12, who has an IEP or a diagnosis from a licensed physician, which includes an osteopathic physician or psychologist, for one of the following disabilities: autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, Spina bifida, Prader-Willi syndrome, Intellectual disability, Williams syndrome or a “high-risk child” in kindergarten, age 3-5, with a developmental delay in cognition, language, or physical development.

The funds can be used for:

  • Specialized services by approved providers that are selected by the parent including, but are not limited to:
    • Applied behavior analysis
    • Speech-language
    • Occupational therapy
    • Physical therapy
    • Listening and spoken language for the deaf or hard of hearing
  • Instructional materials, including digital devices, digital periphery devices, and assistive technology devices that allow a student to access instruction or instructional content
  • Curriculum which is a complete course of study for a particular content area or grade level, including any required supplemental materials
  • Tuition or fees associated with enrollment in approved private schools, private tutoring programs, private virtual education programs, FLVS, district virtual programs, Massive Open Online Courses or postsecondary educational institutions
  • Fees for norm-referenced, AP exams, industry certifications, SAT, ACT and other assessments
  • Contracted services provided by a school district
  • Contributions to Florida Pre-paid College Program

Scholarship amount is based on a Level III matrix, and may vary from county to county by grade and disability, but is approximately $10,000.

Scholarships will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. So go to the www.specialneedskidsathome.com and sign up for updates on the application process.

This section does not expand the regulatory authority of this state, its officers, or any school district to impose additional regulation on participating private schools, nonpublic postsecondary educational institutions, and private providers beyond those reasonably necessary to enforce requirements expressly set forth in this section.

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CAPE Digital Tool Certifications

(amends s. 1003.4203 F. S.)

The Legislature recognizes the need for students to have specific computer skills to be successful in academic work, as well as in the marketplace after graduation. Therefore, they are requiring school districts to make certain certifications available to students starting in elementary school.  Employers will know that a student has mastered certain skills if he or she has earned an Industry Certification. Having one or more of these certifications will make students more attractive to employers.  Home school and private school parents need to look at how their students can earn these certifications.
 
The law states:  “CAPE Digital Tool Certificates shall be identified by DOE and made available to school districts by June 15 of each year.  The certificate shall be made available to all public elementary and middle grade students. Targeted skills to be mastered for the CAPE Digital Tool Certifications are word processing; spreadsheets; presentations, including sound, motion, and color presentations; digital arts; cybersecurity; and coding.  These are skills are necessary for student’s academic work and skills in the workplace.”

NOTE:  Home education and private school students in grades 6-12 will have access to these CAPE Digital Tool Certifications at FLVS for the 2014-15 school year.

  • Adobe Certified Associate Certification – Foundations of Web Design & User interface Design
  • Microsoft Office Specialist Certificate – Word, Excel, PowerPoint
  • Adobe Certified Associate (ACA) Photoshop
  • Adobe Certified Associate (ACA) Illustrator
  • Adobe Certified Associate (ACA) InDesign
  • Adobe Certified Associate (ACA) Dreamweaver
  • Adobe Certified Associate (ACA) Flash
  • Cisco CCNET/CCNA
  • CompTIA A+ Essentials
  • CompTIA Network+
  • Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Bundle Certification (3 out of 6)
  • Microsoft Office Master - Bundle Certification (4 out of 6)
  • Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) - Security Fundamentals
  • Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) - Networking Fundamentals
  • Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) - Windows OS Fundamentals
  • Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) - Windows Server Admin Fundamentals
  • Oracle Certified Associate, Java SE 7 Programmer
  • Oracle Database 11g:  Administration I and SQL Fundamentals
  • Oracle Certified Professional (OCP) - Database 11g: Advanced PL/SQL
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HB 5101  Education Funding

See the Bill here

Computer science and technology instruction

(New section of law s. 1007.2616 FS)

This law, like HB 850, requires public schools to offer courses in computer science and technology. It allows public schools to substitute one or more credits in computer science or technology-related industry certifications for math or science courses. These are to be identified by the Commissioner of Education.

The bill, which is now law, states:
“(1) Public schools shall provide students in grades K-12 opportunities for learning computer science, including, but not limited to, computer coding and computer programming. Such opportunities may include coding instruction in elementary school and middle school, instruction to develop students' computer usage and digital literacy skills in middle school, and courses in computer science, computer coding, and computer programming in high school, including earning related industry certifications.

(2) Elementary schools and middle schools may establish digital classrooms in which students are provided opportunities to improve digital literacy and competency; to learn digital skills, such as coding, multiple media presentation, and the manipulation of multiple digital graphic images; and to earn digital tool certificates and certifications pursuant to s. 1003.4203 and grade-appropriate, technology-related industry certifications.

(3) High schools may provide students opportunities to take computer science courses to satisfy high school graduation requirements, including, but not limited to, the following:

     (a) High school computer science courses of sufficient rigor, as identified by the commissioner, such that one credit in computer science and the earning of related industry certifications constitute the equivalent of up to one credit of the mathematics requirement, with the exception of Algebra I or higher-level mathematics, or up to one credit of the science requirement, with the exception of Biology I or higher-level science, for high school graduation. Computer science courses and technology-related industry certifications that are identified as eligible for meeting mathematics or science requirements for high school graduation shall be included in the Course Code Directory.
      (b) High school computer technology courses in 3D rapid prototype printing of sufficient rigor, as identified by the commissioner, such that one or more credits in such courses and related industry certifications earned may satisfy up to two credits of mathematics required for high school graduation with the exception of Algebra I. Computer technology courses in 3D rapid prototype printing and related industry certifications that are identified as eligible for meeting mathematics requirements for high school graduation shall be included in the Course Code Directory.”

NOTE: Home education and private school students will have access to some of these courses in FLVS or through dual enrollment in a state college. Some school districts, which establish digital classrooms may allow home educated students to take the class on a part-time basis at their zoned public school.

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Florida National Merit Scholar Incentive Program

(New section of law s. 1009.893 FS.)

The Legislature created a new scholarship for National Merit Scholars and National Achievement Scholars who attend a Florida public or independent postsecondary educational institution. This new scholarship will fully pay the cost of attendance (COA) that is not covered by Bright Futures or a National Merit Scholarship. The COA is the total amount of cost to attend college full-time each year, and may include but is not limited to: tuition & fees; on-campus room & board; books; supplies; travel; and miscellaneous expenses.

The DOE Office of Student Financial Aid Fact Sheet on this new scholarship can be located at: http://www.floridastudentfinancialaid.org/SSFAD/factsheets/FIS.pdf
The Guide to the Preliminary SAT (PSAT)/ National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT) National Merit Scholarship site

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Statewide Internet-based Catalog of Postsecondary Distance Learning Courses

(revises s.1006.735 F.S.)

The Florida Legislature created The Complete Florida Plus Program which will be a complete online catalog of postsecondary distance learning courses, degree programs, and resources offered by public postsecondary education institutions designed to assist in the coordination and collaboration of articulation and access. It will be developed and managed by the University of West Florida.

The Complete Florida Plus Program will include “a streamlined online admissions application process, which shall be used by all postsecondary institutions, for undergraduate transient students currently enrolled and pursuing a degree at a public postsecondary education institution who enroll in a course offered by a public postsecondary education institution that is not the student's degree-granting institution”

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Dual Enrollment

During the 2013 Session, the Legislature required district schools to pay the tuition for public school students taking dual enrollment courses. The law did not require private schools to pay tuition for private school students, but the DOE issued a FAQ interpreting the 2013 legislative changes, which utilized a loophole in the law authorizing state colleges to charge private schools tuition for dual enrolment courses. In June, 2013, HEF began meeting with House staff, DOE staff, and several key legislators to discuss the intent of the legislation addressed in the DOE FAQ. The House agreed to include clarifying language in the appropriation bill, and Sen. Stargel filed a bill to provide state funding to state colleges for home education and private school student’s dual enrollment tuition. However, that bill was never heard in a single committee.

It is regrettable that after 10 months of meetings and work to get language in bills to clarify that private schools do not have to pay tuition for their students taking dual enrollment that the Senate, in the two days of the Session, refused to agree to the clarifying language which was in the House Conforming Bill.

This is the clarifying language that HEF tried to get into statute:

“A student, regardless of the student's enrollment in a public or private school or home education program, who meets the eligibility requirements of this section and who chooses to participate in dual enrollment programs is exempt from the payment of registration, tuition, and laboratory fees.”

HEF will continue to work with the Legislature in the future to get the language into law.

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HB 7031 Education
See the Bill here

Uniform Transfer of High School Credits

(Changes s.1003.4282(8) F.S.)

In 2014 the Uniform Transfer of High School Credit policy was changed. Transfer students will now only be required to take two state assessments to validate credit from a private school or home education program to earn a standard high school diploma. Below is the language from the new statute.

“Beginning with the 2012-2013 school year, if a student transfers to a Florida public high school from out of country, out of state, a private school, or a home education program and the student's transcript shows a credit in Algebra I, the student must pass the statewide, standardized Algebra I EOC assessment in order to earn a standard high school diploma unless the student earned a comparative score, passed a statewide assessment in Algebra I administered by the transferring entity, or passed the statewide mathematics assessment the transferring entity uses to satisfy the requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, 20 U.S.C. s. 6301. If a student's transcript shows a credit in high school reading or English Language Arts II or III, in order to earn a standard high school diploma, the student must take and pass the statewide, standardized grade 10 Reading assessment or, when implemented, the grade 10 ELA assessment, or earn a concordant score.

If a transfer student's transcript shows a final course grade and course credit in Algebra I, Geometry, Biology I, or United States History, the transferring course final grade and credit shall be honored without the student taking the requisite statewide, standardized EOC assessment and without the assessment results constituting 30 percent of the student's final course grade.“

CS/CS/SB 188   Education Data Privacy

See the Bill here

Limitations on collection of information and disclosure of confidential and exempt student records

(creates new section 1002.222 FS)

The Legislature this Session placed further restrictions on what data public schools can collect on their students. The law states:

“A public school may not collect, obtain, or retain information on the political affiliation, voting history, religious affiliation, or biometric information of a student or a parent or sibling of the student. For the purpose of this subsection, the term “biometric information” means information collected from the electronic measurement or evaluation of any physical or behavioral characteristics that are attributable to a single person, including fingerprint characteristics, hand characteristics, eye characteristics, vocal characteristics, and any other physical characteristics used for the purpose of electronically identifying that person with a high degree of certainty. Examples of biometric information include, but are not limited to, a fingerprint or hand scan, a retina or iris scan, a voice print, or a facial geometry scan.”

However, until the end of the 2014-15 school year, school districts using a palm scanner system to identify students for breakfast and lunch programs in public schools will be allowed to continue using the scanner.

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Florida Student Identification Numbers

(Revises s.1008.386 FS)

New law requires the Florida Department of Education to create a statewide process for assigning all students a Florida Student Identification Number that is not a social security number (SSN), thereby phasing out the use of SSNs for student identification.

This is the revised language:

“(1) When a student enrolls in a public school in this state, the district school board shall request that the student provide his or her social security number and shall indicate whether the student identification number assigned to the student is a social security number. A student satisfies this requirement by presenting his or her social security card or a copy of the card to a school enrollment official. However, a student is not required to provide his or her social security number as a condition for enrollment or graduation. The Commissioner of Education shall assist school districts with assignment of student identification numbers to avoid duplication of any student identification number.

(2) The department shall establish a process for assigning a Florida student identification number to each student in the state, at which time a school district may not use social security numbers as student identification numbers in its management information systems.”

NOTE: The provision stating that a student is not required to provide a social security card as a condition for enrollment became law as of July 1, 2014. However, the management information system which will assign and use Florida student identification numbers will not be compliant this school year. Therefore, it is unclear at this time whether DOE will require a SSN for home educated students enrolling in the FLVS to be provided for the 2014-15 school year. A SSN may be required in order for FLVS to be paid for the courses taken by home education and private school students.

Private school and home education students taking dual enrollment courses may also have to provide a SSN to the state college. Parents of students applying for a Personal Learning Scholarship Account will be required to give the SSN of the student. HEF met with the DOE staff charged with implementing the new PLSA and brought the SSN exemption language to their attention. DOE decided that until the DOE computer system is able to assign Florida Student ID numbers to all students, social security numbers of PLSA recipients will be required so that DOE can cross-check data to verify that the student is not receiving another scholarship from the state.

HB 5001 General Appropriation Act (Budget)

The Legislature determined the amount for FRAG and Bright Future Scholarship to be as follows:

Florida Resident Access Grant (FRAG)
FRAG is a state grant awarded to eligible Florida students to offset the cost of tuition and fees at qualified Florida private colleges. The amount of the grant is set by the Legislature each year. FRAG for the 2014-15 academic year is $3000.

Bright Futures Scholarships
Bright Futures award per credit hour or credit hour equivalent for the 2014-2015 academic year shall be as follows:

Academic Scholars
4-Year Institutions $103
2-Year Institutions $63
Upper-Division Programs at Florida Colleges $71
Career/Technical Centers $52
Medallion Scholars
4-Year Institutions $77
2-Year Institutions $63
Upper-Division Programs at Florida Colleges $53
Career/Technical Centers $39
Gold Seal Vocational Scholars
Career Certificate Program $39
Applied Technology Diploma Program $39
Technical Degree Education Program $48

The additional stipend for Top Scholars shall be $44 per credit hour.

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