Commissioner names panel to investigate ESE, ELL school grading issues
As promised, Florida education commissioner Gerard Robinson has put together a task force to look into ways to best include students with special education needs and those who are still learning English into the state's school grading system.
Parents, educators and activists raised several concerns during recent State Board of Education consideration of grading rules that the new policies, adopted to help Florida earn an NCLB waiver, were unfair to ESE and ELL students.
The task force, which has its first meeting by phone at noon today, has been given four key tasks:
1. Identify best practices to ensure Florida leads the nation in fully including students with disabilities, students who are learning the English language, and students enrolled in exceptional student education (ESE) centers.
2. Identify strategies to reduce unintended consequences of including students with disabilities, students who are learning the English language, and students enrolled in ESE centers.
3. Identify potential enhancements to Florida’s school grade rule regarding the inclusion of including students with disabilities, students who are learning the English language, and students enrolled in ESE centers that are consistent with the conditions of the federal ESEA flexibility waiver.
4. Identify recommendations and strategies to discuss/negotiate with the U.S. Department of Education to inform future federal policy.
“Florida is a state with significant diversity. The economic development of our state depends on the success of all students,” Robinson said in a release. “Working with the members of this taskforce who represent parents, teachers, administrators, and advocates who represent students with disabilities and English language learners will help to shape the process of inclusion and accountability and ensure that everyone counts in Florida’s education system.”
The panel members are: superintendents Alberto Carvalho (Miami-Dade), MaryEllen Elia (Hillsborough) and Alexis Tibbetts (Okaloosa); principals Robin Meyers and Vickie Marble; teachers Maria Cardenas, Connie Dahn, Agustin Grana; parents Patricia Levesque (also with Jeb Bush's education foundation), Allison Tant Richard, Julie Weinberg; Ester de Jong of LULAC; Shirley Johnson of the NAACP; Richard LaBelle of the Family Network of Disabilities; Francois Leconte of Minority Development and Empowerment; Margarita Pinkos of the Florida Association of Bilingual/ESOL Supervisors; Ann Siegal of Disability Rights Florida; and Lynn Stanfield of Apple Inc.