Palm Beach County Focuses on Bridging Educational Gaps and Enhancing Teacher Capacity

In a recent Palm Beach County School Board meeting, emphasis was placed on addressing the educational proficiency gaps among student subgroups and enhancing teacher capacity through professional development. The Chief Academic Officer presented a midyear instructional review, revealing concerns about the performance levels of black and Hispanic students in reading, math, science, and civics and highlighting the need for improvement. The presentation sparked discussions on the use of funds to address these gaps, the potential impact of the cessation of additional funding, the re-implementation of the Ambassador program, and the ongoing efforts to support both students and teachers in the district.

The Chief Academic Officer underscored the importance of enhancing instructional pedagogy and providing targeted professional development. Efforts to work with teachers to analyze student performance data and develop strategies for improvement were discussed, with a particular focus on the positive progress made in science compared to other subjects. The officer pointed out the necessity to understand the reasons behind the strides made in science education, as well as the importance of collaboration with the University of Florida’s Linger Center to bolster K2 and K3 reading instruction.

The Ambassador program, aimed at bridging communication between the district, Early Learning Coalition, and families to ensure necessary resources are available, was highlighted for its past success and current re-implementation. This initiative is part of a suite of measures aimed at providing a smooth transition for four-year-old students into kindergarten.

Another focal point was the training provided to various educators, including reading specialists and ESE teachers, to ensure all students, especially those with indications of dyslexia, receive appropriate support. Questions were raised about the specific intervention programs being used and whether a written protocol for teachers was in place. The board requested the presenters to continue before addressing these specific queries.

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The conversation extended to the importance of high-quality instructional materials and differentiated instruction within the AMP program. Concerns about math anxiety and the need for longitudinal data on the impact of teaching methods in mathematics were also raised. The board discussed the development of a K4 math intervention handbook and the success of the K5 Science Leadership Academy, which demonstrated significant growth in student performance.

Social studies education, including new standards in Civics and Financial Literacy, was another topic of interest. Palm Beach County is recognized as being ahead of the state in developing a financial literacy program. The Civic Seal of Excellence teacher training program, which provides professional development opportunities and financial incentives for teachers, was also discussed.

In addition to these instructional concerns, the meeting addressed the district’s efforts to prepare students for digital assessments, with the creation of sample test items and a video to familiarize students with the format.

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Plans for summer programs to support student advancement, such as VPK Head Start programs and a three-week math academy for seventh-grade foundational math skills, were outlined. High school graduation support and driver education, as well as programs for ESY, ESOL, and migrant students at cluster sites, were also discussed.

Concerns were voiced regarding the quality of professional development and the involvement of substitute teachers in professional learning communities. The use of the University of Florida’s YouLynx program and consultation with the Lassinger Center were mentioned as part of the district’s measures to enhance education.

The meeting concluded with a discussion on the role of the committee, with members expressing a desire for a more advisory capacity rather than simply listening to presentations. Future discussions are expected to address the use of generative AI by students and how the district plans to prepare students for AI-related careers.

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Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Superintendent:
Michael J. Burke
School Board Officials:
Barbara McQuinn, Alexandria Ayala, Karen Brill, Erica Whitfield, Frank A. Barbieri, Jr., Esq. (Board Attorney), Marcia Andrews, Edwin Ferguson, Esq. (Board Attorney)

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