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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Commissioner stands by FSA cut score proposal, while Council of 100 repeats call for more



Responding to State Board member requests, Florida education commissioner Pam Stewart has provided more details about how her Florida Standards Assessment cut score proposals compare to other states' approaches to aligning with NAEP.

In the 7-page document, to be discussed at the State Board's conference call meeting Friday, Stewart explains how Florida's "satisfactory" or "passing" score of Level 3 does not match up with other states' scoring models. Other states use what equates to Florida's Level 4, not 3, to correlate to NAEP proficiency, she writes.

"Though these states have aligned their Level 4 more closely to NAEP Proficiency, in many instances they are not holding students accountable to that bar, setting lower passing scores or other alternatives for students to meet in order to graduate," Stewart wrote. She added, "In Florida, statute defines student 'passing' as a Level 3 or higher (s. 1008.34(1)(a), F.S.). Setting one bar for 'satisfactory' and another lower bar for 'passing' is not only inconsistent with state law, but also sends a confusing, mixed message to parents and students."

But that is what some groups, including the Florida Council of 100, are pressing for. In a statement approved Tuesday and released Wednesday, the Council urges the State Board to adopt high cut scores closely aligned to NAEP proficiency levels. Those could lead to higher failure levels.

Council chairwoman Rhea Law wrote to SBOE chairwoman Marva Johnson:

"As Susan Pareigis, our President & CEO, testified at the October 28 State Board of Education meeting, we either need to demand superior performance from our students now, or employers will be forced to tell them that they are unqualified later, when they apply for work. So how do we do that? Simply put, it starts with benchmarking Florida students against the best in the nation."

Some State Board members have held firm to this philosophy, while others have hedged their bets so far. Parents, teachers and superintendents largely have backed the commissioner's recommendation, with some pushing for even less reliance on test results.

The conversation on Friday should inform the likely path the board will take when it formally acts on cut scores in January. Stewart has said she has no plan to change her recommendation.

[Last modified: Wednesday, December 2, 2015 3:11pm]


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