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Will my kids have a good school in Florida?

Will my kids have a good school in Florida? What are schools like in Florida? We get these questions each and every day. As an experienced teacher moving from Texas, I knew the culture would be completely different. I was not wrong.

The Orlando area experiences many of the same struggles that most major cities report – uneven population growth, overcrowded areas, teacher turnover, homeless population, and a constantly changing curriculum. One thing that is unique to Orlando is that it has a huge transient population. People are constantly moving in this city. Whether moving from one apartment to another, moving from extended hotel location to a more permanent home, or moving from out of state or out of the county, folks in this area are on the move.

We originally moved to Seminole county mainly due to the good reputation the school district was given. Our children attended a great elementary school however there was little parent communication. Yes they had the planner but as far as any activities, we were totally in the dark. Our previous school in Texas had amazing communication in place – Facebook, Twitter, phone calling systems, emailed newsletters, etc. None of this was found in our children’s school. Our oldest son reported many friends moving out of his class and how many new students they received each month. This did not affect the instruction, just a social aspect that was new to us.

Despite a lower school district rating, we moved to Osceola County. Incidentally, we found that checking the Great Schools rating was not that helpful as negative comments were mostly due to frustrated parents venting over isolated incidents and positive comments were attributed to teachers wanting to improve the rating.

We know going into the new school year that many of our kid’s friends will move away but they are dealing with that pretty well. We also know that communication may be less but we can certainly be more proactive about that and encourage more communication as needed. We know they will tweaking the curriculum as yet another set of state standards are handed down. As long as our kids are growing intellectually, challenged to be lifelong learners, feel appreciated in the classroom, and making friends, we are good. Those things may not happen for every child in every school but that poor experience can occur anywhere. Many districts get a bad reputation. Orange County is huge and has pockets of greatness and pockets of much needed improvement. Osceola County is geographically diverse and has a great desire to become one of the best in the state. Seminole County has a great reputation but is further away from the theme park areas and may not be for everyone.

A great place to begin your research is with the 2013-2014 School Accountability Report.  Please note, High School scores are currently not available and will be updated later this year. This report will show the School District, School Name, Preliminary Grade for 2014 and past scores through 1999 where applicable.

Mrs “Taking the Florida Plunge”

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