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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Florida school grade formulas to change



Even as Florida high schools celebrate or lament their overdue 2011 grades, education officials already are noting how the formula used to calculate those grades will be changing by the spring.

The Department of Education on Wednesday held the first of three public hearings on proposed rule changes to the grading methodology.

Deputy commissioner Kris Ellington explained that the revisions will be based on changing test scores, the addition of more end-of-course exams, a new graduation rate equation and an effort to streamline the state's accountability system with the federal standard for annual progress.

The graduation rate formula change is likely to lead to lower rates. But Ellington said the state is looking for ways to continue reporting fifth-year graduation rates and special diplomas so that the value of completing high school is not diminished. Leaders also are looking into ways to account for improvement in the numbers of students progressing from Level 4 to Level 5 on the FCAT, she added.

Middle schools also face some changes to their grading formula, Ellington added, because of state statutory requirements. Specifically, statute mandates that middle school grades this year must include performance and participation of students in high school level courses with end-of-course assessments, with performance and participation weighted equally.

End-of-course exams for geometry and biology are supposed to be counted beginning this year, along with algebra.

Some school-based leaders have said they don't mind having to keep working toward changing standards. Others have expressed frustration, particularly that many parents and other residents do not understand the details and simply look at the bottom line letter grade. Your thoughts?

[Last modified: Wednesday, January 4, 2012 4:06pm]


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