Education Opinion

Smart Cities: Miami on the Move

By Tom Vander Ark — January 17, 2014 3 min read
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The Miami Dade County School District won the 2012 Broad Prize. Reviewers noted the
use of data to drive minority achievement gains and a unique problem-solving strategy to help challenged schools improve their student performance.

Following Rudy Crew, who was superintendent from 2004 to 2008, Alberto Carvalho was appointed superintendent in September 2008. Carvalho had served the
district as a teacher, principal, and associate superintendent. Last month Carvalho was named Florida’s Superintendent of the Year (and is a finalist for the national superintendent of the

iPrep Math
is a blended learning middle school math program with digital content from Carnegie Learning Mathia and Reflex Math. The algebra-readiness program was funded by Race to the Top District grant and is used in 49 schools.

In partnership with Florida Virtual School (FLVS), Miami-Dade created Blended Learning Communities (BLC) in all high
schools and serving about 24,000 students. FLVS teachers create purposeful visits in order to provide direct differentiated instruction. The teachers may
collaborate with the Blended Learning Specialists in order to provide one-on-one or cohort tutoring opportunities. BLCs are piloting new course targeting
English Language Learners.

In June, the board approved a 1:1 plan ensuring that all students would have access to a laptop or tablet by 2015. In November, EdWeek reported a reconsideration of tablets.
Improved access is beginning in middle and high schools with take-home-tech starting next school year. Wireless access for all M-DCPS Schools will be
completed by March 2014 with BYOD capabilities available in September 2014.

Despite budget cuts, Carvalho introduced 36 new magnet and choice programs for the 2013-14 school year.
Magnet options include Cambridge, Science, Mathematics, Legal Studies, Information Technology, International Studies and the Arts.

There are 8 iPrep Academyflex model high schools (see locations) that provide accelerated course options in a technology rich
environment. Student internships include law, medical, television production, engineering, advertising, bakery, and interior design. One academy is fully
powered by FLVS, the other use FLVS and other providers.

iTech Academy
at Miami Springs High is an IT and coding magnet focusing “on technical skill proficiency through
competency-based applied learning.” The academy relocated to new state-of-the-art academy suite during the fall of 2013.

With a $10.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education Magnet Schools Assistance Program, Miami-Dade will open two more STEM magnets: BioTech @ Zoo Miami and
iTech @ Edison.

Miami-Dade Online Academy
is a full-time online school serving about 200 students. In addition to powering Miami-Dade blends and online course choice, Florida Virtual School is also a full-time online option.

There are about 200 charter schools in Miami Dade County and Broward County.

Charter Schools USA
is headquartered in Ft. Lauderdale and has 5 in Miami Dade County and 6 in Broward County. The high performing network operates 58 schools in 7 states.
Frequent assessment drives targeted instruction. Every student starts the year with a Personal Learning Plan (PLP) which is modified as the student
progresses. CSUSA uses a proprietary Student Information System to track student progress and stay connected to parents.

, headquartered in Miami, supports 94 south Florida charters--many of which are recognized as high performing--in four networks: Mater Academies, Somerset
Academies, Doral Academies, and Pinecrest Academies. Mater Academy Charter High School is an example
of a big (2,800 learners in grades 6-12), academically successful, traditional school. Academica president Fernando Zulueta and his brother, Ignacio, have
quietly built a network of schools that also includes 17 schools in four other states.

is a network of 7 innovative flex high schools, 6 in south Florida. The management company has been through some turmoil and some academies have struggled
on traditional measures.

Between district, charter, and virtual schools, options are improving for south Florida families.

FLVS is a Getting Smart Advocacy Partner.

The opinions expressed in Vander Ark on Innovation are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.