High school grades rise statewide
High school grades rose dramatically this year, thanks in part to a new grading formula that for the first time included other factors besides the FCAT. Seventy-one percent of high schools earned A's or B's, up from 41 percent last year, while the number of D's and F's dropped from 32 to 14 percent. (Find school-by-school results here.)
"I'm very proud of our students for stepping up to the challenge that was put up by the state of Florida," Education Commissioner Eric J. Smith said in a conference call with reporters just a few minutes ago. "I would hope the headlines out there in the world are not just about school grades ... The school grades are reflective of incredible change going on with our high schools today."
Smith, though, also offered cautionary words, noting the state's expectations for high schools are being ratcheted up.
New, tougher graduation requirements are coming on line, along with new FCAT tests based on updated standards. Over the next two years, the high school grading formula will decrease the weight given for participation in Advanced Placement testing, and increase the weight given for performance.
One thing Smith didn't mention: next year's graduation rates. As the state shifts yet again to yet another grad rate formula -- one that doesn't exclude students who transfer into adult education -- it's very likely the state's graduation rate will take a big hit and bring some of today's glowing school grades down with it.
Update: The DOE says it will calculate the new uniform federal graduation rate next year, but it won't become the official state rate -- and won't be used in the high school grading formula -- until 2011-12.