Puerto Rico consists of the main island of Puerto Rico and various smaller islands, and is located approximately 1,000 miles southeast of Miami. Of the smaller islands, only Vieques and Culebra are inhabited, and both have schools in need of improvement. The mainland measures 105 miles by 35 miles and has a population of approximately 3.5 million.
In the Wake of Disaster
After the devastating impact of hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017, there has been a significant exodus of families moving to the United States. The certified public school student enrollment for 2017–2018 was 346,096 in 1,090 schools — but as of March 2018, student registration has decreased to 319,097 and many of the schools are in various stages of improvement. It is forecasted that due to the continuous migration of families and the restructuring currently underway at the Puerto Rico Department of Education (PRDE), the 2018–2019 school year will have completed the restructuring and consolidation of an additional 300 schools, thus accommodating both the structural and educator needs of the public school system. According to the National Center for Education Statistics State Profiles, 99 percent of schools are classified as Title I schools. Spanish and English are the official languages; however, Spanish is the dominant language and used as the language of instruction.
The Florida and the Islands Regional Comprehensive Center (FLICC) has actively collaborated with PRDE for 17 years. More recently, FLICC has assisted in enhancing the managerial capacity of leadership staff, geared to help implement and sustain the PRDE academic transformation plan, which focused on the transition to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and sustainability strategies. In 2017, FLICC directly collaborated in writing the PRDE State Consolidated ESSA Plan, which was approved by the United States Department of Education in December 2017. Currently, the FLICC team is focusing its efforts on:
- providing support in the organizational and the structural development of the Institute of Professional Development
- capacity building among leadership staff in the alignment and compliance of their ESSA State Plan
- collaborating in breaking from a cultural-style of working in silos to promote the importance of cross-collaboration
- encouraging the establishment of workgroups and the significant added value of effective communication
In addition, FLICC is working closely with the leadership staff in identifying talented career professionals at the DEPR that are key for continuity, empowerment of transition processes and the building and maintaining of sustainability strategies.
FLICC will collaborate with the PRDE on projects focused on talent development to build the capacity of the State Education Agency (SEA). FLICC will support the PRDE staff in order to develop, implement and monitor all initiatives related to the effective realization of ESSA and collaborate as they continue with efforts to strengthen the departments that are accountable for academic transformation initiatives and activities.
FLICC provides guidance, resources and support to PRDE as it increases its capacity to support the efforts of the recently created Educational Regional Offices* and schools to improve educational opportunities for all children. FLICC provides continuous technical assistance and support, enhanced with resources that aid in the implementation of the ESSA processes. We also assist PRDE in identifying priority areas that require resources and support, and jointly developing strategic plans that foster collaboration and accountability.
*Ley Núm. 85 de 29 de marzo de 2018 "Ley de Reforma Educativa de Puerto Rico"
FLICC is partnering with the PRDE and may hold events as part of that work.