Our Work, Under A Microscope

Our Vision

We have a vision that every Florida student graduates from high school ready for postsecondary education and a career. By “every student,” we mean all of them. No exceptions. No gaps.

We see three current priority work areas that represent the best possible use of our energy and resources to accomplish this vision.

Our Work

We have three primary areas of focus:

Increasingly progressive standards and transparent accountability among schools, educators and students have been vital in the improvement of educational outcomes in Florida.Our students are being trained to compete in the high tech global economy  of tomorrow. Because standards and transparent accountability help create an environment in which the talents and capabilities of all learners are valued and respected, the Foundation will seek to strengthen the systems of standards and accountability in Florida,and to lead in the advancement and evolution of these systems.


One of the great benefits of standards and accountability is the emergence of data inform good decision making. Schools have grown in their ability to gather and apply data for effective student outcomes. Now, thanks to the leadership of the Florida Education Foundation, parents also have access to data and other information to be more empowered in educational decision making and leadership at home and in the classroom. Additionally, Florida has adopted some of the most rigorous standards in the nation. By helping parents understand the standards and the learning expectations for the state’s classrooms, parents will be far more capable of partnering with teachers to encourage student success.

Florida’s highest performing students leave public schools with a variety of options for college and career. Our collective quality of life will improve, however, when we enable all learners to realize their talents and reach their full potential. The academic performance gap in Florida, like the nation, is most obvious in groupings of students by race and by family income factors. Because successful educational outcomes for all students are vitally important to the future of our communities, our state, and our nation, the Foundation will endeavor to raise the academic performance of Florida’s lower performing student groups and close the achievement gap.

The Commissioner’s Leadership Academy

The relationship between quality school leadership and student achievement is strong. Principals and assistant principals who can effectively lead teachers can lead schools to high effectiveness.

The Commissioner’s Leadership Academy, which as been generously funded by State Farm for three years, is a year long, job embedded, research based program for school principal development. The initiative has three projected outcomes:
1. Deepen school leaders’ knowledge and skill in identifying high quality instruction along with the professional learning necessary to support teachers’ own learning.
2. Deepen school leaders’ skills in observation, analysis and feedback through on-site support, coaching, and modeling.
3. Develop school leaders’ skills in providing targeted feedback for teacher growth.

The Academy’s work is grounded in the Center for Educational Leadership’s theory of action: Student learning will not improve until the quality of teaching improves, and the quality of teaching will not improve until school leaders understand what constitutes high quality instruction and the role they play in improving teacher practice.

Selected school leaders participate in three institutes and five “learning walks” with a regional cohort to develop and practice observational skills and leadership and coaching skills. Now, several participants have been trained to conduct “learning walks” designed to observe and inspire quality instruction. These leaders are now prepared to expand the impact on the program throughout their schools and districts.

Studies often show a clear correlation between early reading preparation and long-term academic attainment. Based on standards of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), more than 60 percent of Florida students in fourth grade are below proficient in reading, a skill that’s essential for continued success in primary, secondary and post-secondary education. Other research indicates that reading deficiencies are higher in the United States compared to other nations even before traditional public schooling age. Because reading is a foundation for all other learning, the Foundation will pursue systemic changes in improving the reading capabilities of Florida children through grade three.

Florida Reads Best

The Florida Education Foundation is working to identify the root causes of Florida’s early grades reading performance and to seek evidenced-based, district- and classroom-supported solutions. Using seed funding from State Farm, the Foundation began a dialog with school district reading leaders, the reading research community and other partners in the grade-level reading effort. Those talks created a combination of the most promising strategies to help every student achieve grade level reading success by 3rd grade, or about age 8. From these initial discussions, the Foundation has created a collaborative of academic and elementary reading leaders rom school districts throughout the state. Higher education partners and early learning partners are also involved. This group has already focused on three areas of promise: educator quality, early years preparation, and community engagement. The Foundation is now seeking thought partners and funding partners to create a sustainable reading infrastructure system, so that every child moves from learning-to-read to reading-to-learn by 3rd grade.

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