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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Will more Florida high schools get F's?



This is a test. This is only a test. But for some, the test is ringing alarm bells.

While the state Department of Education has been chipping away at a new formula for determining high school grades, it did a little simulation recently to see how schools would fare. The Legislature mandated that half of the new grade should be based on the FCAT (as opposed to the entire grade in the past) and that the other half should be based on a combination of other factors, including graduation rates, participation in AP courses and SAT and ACT scores.

The result? According to the simulation, which is based on 2007 grades, not so good. About a third of the state’s high schools dropped a letter grade, while only a relative handful improved a grade. Of the 51 high schools in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando, 20 dropped a grade, 1 rose a grade and the rest stayed put.

Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco each had one high school that dropped to an F (Leto in Hillsborough, Dixie Hollins in Pinellas and Gulf in Pasco).

Some district officials are upset, according to this recent Miami Herald story. And part of it may be due to a perception that if high school grades were based on more factors than just FCAT scores, they’d get better, not worse. (Which seems like a strange expectation, given that schools with poor FCAT scores also tend to have lower grad rates, fewer students taking AP classes, etc.)

The new formula won’t kick in until the 2009-10 school year. And DOE officials told it’s likely the formula will be further tweaked in the meantime. They also left themselves an out, saying if grades do drop initially, they’re likely to rebound in subsequent years, as they have following other changes to the grading system.

For more details about the simulation, see this DOE presentation here. For a spread sheet with the school-by-school results, click here.

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:09am]


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