Florida High Schools Post High Scores
article by Florida Teacher | January 11, 2012
After implementing a new grading system two years ago, Florida high schools are posting markedly improved grades, with more schools posting A or B scores than ever. A record 78 percent of schools scored either an A or a B and only the number of failing schools dropped from 15 percent to 6 percent.
“It's great to see more of Florida's high schools trending upward,” Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement. “Education is critical to improving lives, preparing students for a job and attracting employers.”
Previously the state would evaluate schools based on students’ Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores. However, most students would take FCAT exams in 9th and 10th grade, which means that the school grade often relied on younger students rather than those preparing to graduate.
Because of this, the state changed the equation so that the FCAT scores represent half of the grade. The rest of the grade now includes other factors such as graduation rates, college level class scores, AP exam scores and college entrance exam scores.
While these changes have allowed schools to post higher scores, with hundreds posting higher scores when it was initially put into place, this year the state tweaked it some. The formula was changed to focus less on raising enrollment into college-level classes and focus more on ensuring students actually pass those classes.
“Now we need to get them in there, keep them in there and make sure they're performing — that's the difference now,” Louis Robison, Manatee County director of school improvement and accountability said to The Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
This change has helped schools like Middleburg High School, Southridge Senior High School and Frank H. Peterson Technology Academy earn an A for the first time. In fact both Southridge and Peterson previously had failing scores and have made the largest turnarounds.
“You could not ask for a place with more excitement and more energy,” Peterson Principal Cathy Barnes said to The Florida Times-Union. “We announced it on the intercom and you could hear the students screaming up the hallways.”
However, in spite of these scores, schools may have a tougher time next year as the state tweaks the formula some more. State officials, in December, raised the scores required to pass the FCAT and stricter measures of graduation rates that fall in line with federal guidelines.
“Even though the standards are higher, we expect students to do better,” Kris Ellington, Florida deputy commissioner for accountability, research and measurement said to The Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
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