BOE: No to school grade change
The Board of Education shot down a recommendation this afternoon to suspend a portion of the school-grading formula that puts extra weight on the progress of students who struggle the most. The recommendation - floated last week, in the wake of the debacle over botched third-grade FCAT scores - was made by Education Commissioner Jeanine Blomberg and supported by many superintendents. But board members said the recommendation was too big a change to consider on a whim, with little time for input and debate. "I don't think this is the way we should go about changing a basic policy of the Board of Education," said board member Roberto Martinez, a Miami lawyer.
The provision in question is a product of the Jeb Bush accountability system. It penalizes schools a full letter grade if a majority of the students in the bottom quartile fail to make academic gains on the FCAT. Last year, 98 schools in the state - of nearly 3,000 total - felt the sting of the penalty provision, with the vast majority missing by 5 percentage points or less. But as Blomberg noted in her presentation, some of those schools had a greater percentage of their bottom quartiles making gains - yet were still penalized - while more than 900 schools went un-penalized despite showing declines. Blomberg had recommended that the board suspend the penalty for this year's school grades, while alternatives are considered later.
In a related development, the board agreed that the Department of Education should calculate this year's school grades without the third-grade reading scores in the mix.