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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Dry run of Florida school grades shows massive drop in A's, rise in F's



During discussion Tuesday, Florida Board of Education member Sally Bradshaw dropped that the state would have 262 F graded schools if new criteria would take effect unimpeded, and 108 if the board were to adopt a recommended "safety net" of preventing declines of more than one letter grade.

Bradshaw argued against the recommendation, which ultimately passed, saying the state should tell the truth about school performance so districts could direct needed resources to struggling campuses. She didn't say where the numbers that she cited came from.

Several hours after reporters asked, the Department of Education released its preliminary impact data that Bradshaw used. It revealed how the "safety net" would affect school grades, and more.

It showed the decrease in F schools if grades were not permitted to drop more than one level, as well as a near doubling of B schools prevented from becoming C's (or worse).

It also provided a comparison between the 2012 grade distribution and the projected 2013 distribution, with the new criteria in place such as a return to requiring at least half of the lowest performing quarter of students in a school to show gains. The results? The number of A schools would drop from 1,242 in 2012 to 756 this year. B schools would decline from 609 to 389, although that number would rise to 680 with the safety net in place.

On the other end, C schools would increase from 494 to 818, D's from 212 to 390 and F's from 40 to 262. See the full chart here.

The department issued several caveats, including the need to do quality control on the data. But the numbers reflect what the superintendents said when they first complained about the pending grades, that the multiple changes to the formula would drive the grades down.

"As Commissioner Bennett said at today’'s State Board meeting, Florida is a national model for school accountability and our state'’s commitment to higher standards has resulted in tremendous gains in student learning over time," spokeswoman Cheryl Etters said in a release. "The State Board'’s actions today leave Florida well positioned to transition to the more rigorous Common Core State Standards."

See the department's press release on the board action for more on its take.

[Last modified: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 8:18pm]


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