Watch who's doing the grading, and why, edu-watchdog Dorn warns
Florida received top marks nationally from Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst organization in its first annual report card of state education policies and laws.
"Florida ... is setting an example - beginning with a strong foundation for reform built by Governor Jeb Bush and continuing today, under Governor Rick Scott - by bringing more rigor and accountability into its school system. The changes are paying off; Florida students recently outperformed a majority of the country and the world in an internationally benchmarked test," Rhee and former NYC chancellor Joel Klein wrote in an op-ed for CNN.
The two otherwise panned the states for creating policies that are barriers to academic success.
USF education professor and blogger Sherman Dorn reacted to the news by reposting a 2010 piece in which he warns readers to treat each such grading report with a wary eye. "As a faculty member who has assigned thousands of grades to students, where the grades affect student progress towards degrees and financial-aid eligibility, I know from experience that the process of grading is imperfect and in my field depends on judgment rather than objective cut-and-dried methods," Dorn writes.
And let's face it, Rhee's organization is far from noncontroversial. The Huffington Post is among many reporting that StudentsFirst has lost much of its bipartisan appeal recently, as many Democrats in the leadership left over the political positions it was taking across the nation. StudentsFirst was one of the first to openly support Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Senate Bill 736, which forced unpopular changes in teacher evaluations, contracts and related matters.
So it's very clear what the group is looking for when it rates the states. The question is, are you looking for the same thing with the same level of zeal as StudentsFirst? Or is a B- from StudentsFirst akin to an F on your grading scale?