Florida Approves School Grading Changes
article by Florida Teacher | March 01, 2012
After facing criticism and controversy, the Florida State Board of Education has approved revised changes to the state’s school grading system. Initially the proposed changes to the grading system were deemed too strict by parents, teachers, administrators and business leaders, which forced the board to revise their proposal.
“I feel that they listened,” Orange Superintendent Ron Blocker said to The Orlando Sentinel. “There's some good that came out of it, but we are going to have to get used to school grades dropping.”
One of the main revisions made to the proposal is a backing off of the “proficiency trigger,” where if a school has fewer than 25 percent of the students reading at grade level, they would receive an automatic F.
Now if schools do not hit 25 percent level, the school will only be docked one letter grade. While these changes are more lenient, it is still unknown how they will affect schools grades.
The new changes were proposed as a result of the state receiving No Child Left Behind waivers, sparking criticisms and outcry as many felt that many schools would be unfairly characterized as a poor school in spite of good instruction.
Under the previous proposal many hundreds of schools would have received F grades. For example, Miami-Dade school district would have had its number of failing schools increase from five to 50 and Broward would have increased from five to 27 schools.
Including students with disabilities and non-English speakers in the equation—one of the highly criticized changes—however, will not be removed from the new revised changes. Many feel that these groups of students should not factor into the equation the same way that typical children would.
“Schools with 30, 40, 50 or 60 percent of students who are not native English speakers are going to be at a disadvantage in terms of this as a performance metric,” Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said to The Miami Herald. “That does not mean there is not quality instruction taking place in that school.”
Carvalho continued stating that he worried that students with disabilities would be perceived as “dragging schools down.”
Because of this, in spite of the new school grading system being passed, some groups, like Florida Association of Special Education Attorneys (FASE), still opposed the rules due to how they handled specialized schools for students with disabilities.
“If there is no accountability for schools that serve only disabled students ... schools will continue to have an incentive to place children in these more restrictive environments,” FASE said in a statement. “We instead urge that there be incentives to serve these students effectively so they can learn in regular classrooms in their local schools, participate in extracurricular activities, and make friends with students who are not disabled.”
In spite of these criticisms, many still feel that these changes are necessary for education to move forward in Florida.
“It's a move in the right direction,” Carvalho, who had requested many of the changes said to The Miami Herald. “In the process, we moved to a more reasonable policy that serves all students.”
More Florida Articles
In a dramatic 20-20 vote, the Florida state senate defeated a parent trigger bill for the second straight year. The bill would have given parents more say in how to handle failing schools....
Florida legislators have decided that while Gov. Rick Scott will be getting nearly $500 million for education, teachers won’t be receiving the across-the-board pay raises the governor had originally...
Bills moving through the legislature are seeking to expand virtual education in Florida public schools, allowing students greater access to courses from online providers....