School grades and Florida's plateau
Like him or hate him, Matthew Ladner, senior advisor of policy and research for Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education, pays as much attention to Florida's academic trend numbers as anybody. In this recent post on Jay P. Greene's blog, "Florida Finally Hits a Wall," he says it's hard to know exactly what's behind the Sunshine State's stall on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. But he also strongly suggests that Florida's school grading system is part of the problem ... because it's too easy.
The setting of these (school grading) standards represents far more of an art than a science. Set them too far high and disaster follows (this happened in Arizona). Set them too low, and you remove the tension in the system needed to drive improvement. Even after the last increase in grading standards, more than 10 times as many Florida schools received A/B grades as D/F grades ...
Despite the enormous amount of progress seen on NAEP (and no one loves celebrating it more than me) too great of a gulf lies between a state system awarding ten times as many top grades as low grades but still (has) large minorities of students scoring below basic on the NAEP exams.