With a focus on improving the quality of teaching across all Florida classrooms, the new organization Impact Florida this week launched its efforts to empower education leaders to recognize, support, and scale excellent teaching practices so all children can realize success in life.
Impact Florida is marking its launch by hosting an education summit, “Bridging the Opportunity Gap in Classrooms,” in Orlando today and tomorrow. More than 135 people from 13 school districts and 20 education organizations are attending. These school districts represent over 1 million students in Florida — 42 percent of the total student population.
Attendees will hear from a robust slate of speakers, including Jacob Oliva, Chancellor of Florida Public Schools; Joy Prescott, 2019 Florida Teacher of the Year; and David Steiner, Executive Director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy, among others.
“What happens in the classroom is at the heart of our vision,” said Mandy Clark, Executive Director of Impact Florida. “We have tremendous respect for the effort students and teachers put in day in and day out. We want to help leaders know how to best support teachers in every Florida classroom, every day, to ensure students receive instruction that prepares them to succeed in life after their K-12 career.”
Along with the summit, Impact Florida has released its first “Case for Impact,” which lays out compelling research and identifies Five Conditions That Support Great Teaching. This is the first of a series of resources Impact Florida plans to offer, Clark said, to point partners and leaders to best practices in realizing excellent instruction, scaling it, and closing opportunity gaps.
To inform its work, Impact Florida commissioned a survey of more than 900 Florida educators, principals, and superintendents in December 2018. The majority of respondents identified student equity in education as the most important thing for advocates to focus on this year. Additionally, 87 percent of respondents agreed that advocacy, action, and the effective use of data can improve the quality of education.
Among the findings of the Impact Florida survey:
- 70 percent of respondents agree that some long-utilized methods of instruction have widened outcome gaps among students. Most educators (79 percent) agree that all students, regardless of race and socioeconomic status, can achieve educational success if they are provided great teaching.
- 69 percent of respondents felt student outcomes could be improved if education leaders focused on strengthening teaching practices. Yet only 54 percent of respondents felt leaders know how to effectively support educators.
“I am proud of what we are building at Impact Florida,” said Trey Csar, Impact Florida Chief Operating Officer. “We saw gaps in the education sector, and we want to be an effective, collaborative partner to state and district leaders in addressing them. Likewise, we have great respect for the many education organizations working across our state. We look forward to building a shared vision around the specific moves leaders can make to support teachers in improving teaching practices, which we believe will lead to tangible improvement in the education K-12 students receive.”
Impact Florida’s vision of uniting Florida’s education leaders around the conditions that support excellent instruction is especially relevant, as Governor Ron DeSantis has issued an executive order calling for the current Florida Standards to be reviewed by the Florida Department of Education. Impact Florida looks forward to working with education leaders throughout the state during this process to ensure that any new standards reflect high expectations for students and fully prepare them for success.