Learn the Issues
As part of its strategic planning, the Foundation's board of director spent 2011 researching the most current data to identify the key issues facing Orange County Public Schools and how it could help make a positive impact.
Key Points Shaping the Foundation for Orange County Public Schools Future:
1. While the number of students entering higher education ready to take college courses is increasing, far too many are leaving high school needing remedial classes.
To reach the education level of the 10 most productive states within the next two decades, Florida needs 4.5 million adults with baccalaureate degrees (1.3 million more than expected at the current attainment rates), and at least 100,000 more science and technology professionals than we are on track to produce. Of every 100 Florida students today, only 76 will graduate from high school, only 51 will attend college, and only 32 will earn a baccalaureate degree within six years. (Closing the Gap, The Florida Council of 100, January 2010.)
2. Literacy must continue to be emphasized through the middle and high school years.
After third grade, students move from "learning to read” to "reading to learn,” although students require ongoing literacy instruction through high school. Strong literacy skills provide the foundation for success in all areas including science and mathematics. In 2011, the number of students reading at grade level went from 70% in 3rd grade to 66% in 6th grade to an alarming 36% in 10th grade according to FCAT scores. (Florida Kindergarten Readiness Screener, FAIR Assessment – Letter Naming & Phonemic Awareness, 2010.)
3. Thirty-three percent of Orange County’s 2010-2011 kindergarteners started the school year not ready.
It is unclear how many of these students attended VPK or, if they did, where they attended the program. More information is needed to determine if families are not taking advantage of VPK; if providers are not adequately preparing students and, if so, which providers are the low performers; or if a combination of these and other factors are affecting the readiness of Orange County’s kindergarteners. What is clear is that a third of Orange County’s youngest students are beginning their academic careers already behind.
4. Public funding for education is not keeping pace with demands and needs.
Over the past four years, Florida’s per-student funding has dropped $1,074 per student, a 15% decrease. Lawmakers cut per student funding by $542 for the 2011-2012 school year.
5. Professional development for teachers is essential.
Teachers are central to the success of students and, as professionals, they benefit from on-going development opportunities that enable them to grow in their effectiveness. Highly effective teachers increase student achievement. The experiences teachers give students in the classrooms and the opportunities for thinking are what enable students to excel.
6. Helping students leave high school college and/or career ready is important to our economy and community.
A large percentage of students do not go to college and, of those who do go, a significant percentage fail to earn a degree. In 2009-2010, 46% of the 9,865 Orange County graduates indicated that they intended to enroll in a Florida community college or university; 11% indicated they planned to enroll in a non-Florida college or university, attend a technical or trade school or join the U.S. Armed Forces. (Education Information & Accountability Services Data Report, Florida Department of Education, Series 2010-23D, March 2011.) We must prepare students to compete for jobs in a global marketplace where communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creative problem solving are the "new basics” whatever their career path.
7. Today's students are digital learners, and technology is not evenly distributed throughout the district with some students having far more access than others.
We know that technology motivates our youth and influences their career choices. Technology is a part of everyday life for our students and will be part of most professions in the future. Integrating it into schools and homes is important for all students.
8. Student success depends on family involvement.
Families are critical to student success, and schools need support as they seek to work in partnership with families to enable all students to reach their fullest potential. Sharing best practices among schools, educating parents, and giving families tools to impact academic performance will help students at all levels, from kindergarten into post-secondary education.
9. The economy has negatively impacted a large percentage of OCPS families, which has direct implications for how ready their children are to learn when they walk into their classrooms.
More than 3,000 families are homeless, a high district mobility rate (37% in 2009-2010 school year) and decreasing parent involvement are emerging needs facing our schools. Parents’ unemployment and under-employment affects their children’s most basic needs which, in turn, affects their ability to learn: regular, nutritious meals; clean, appropriate and properly fitting clothing; adequate sleep; good hygiene; and a stable, supportive home environment.
10. There is little awareness and understanding – internally and externally – about the FOCPS and its purpose.
Once a vision is in place, the entire board of directors needs to be able to tell the Foundation’s story and inspire others to share its message.
11. The FOCPS needs to grow and diversify its revenue sources and build a sustainable financial model.
The FOCPS relies heavily on foundation and corporate donations. It does not have an endowment and its reserves have decreased 39% over the past five years.