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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Florida education department clarifies rules on student retention, teacher evaluations

The passage of HB 7069 into law changed the rules for evaluating Florida students and teachers. Exactly how has been the subject of much debate.

There's been a healthy back and forth, for instance, over whether the Legislature's action gave school districts more flexibility on retaining third graders who score at the lowest levels of the state reading test.

Here's what we recently wrote, suggesting that schools hold the final decision. The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, for one, took issue, saying we got it wrong.

The Florida Department of Education issued its notes from an April 29 conference call, in which it aimed to explain the current state of affairs to superintendents. Here's what it said:

Regarding third grade English Language Arts, it is clearly stated in the bill that we will determine the students who are in the bottom quintile to produce a list of students statewide who are at risk of retention. We will provide to each district their students that are in the statewide bottom quintile. The list will then be disaggregated by districts and provided to each of you as an alphabetical list of your students. You will receive the names of your students only, who are in the bottom quintile of the state. We will not be providing the percentile associated with each student, as that would be inappropriate when we consider that the scores have not been through all validity checks. 

The law indicates that the list is to be provided for consideration by the district to then determine whether or not they will retain the student [emphasis added] or use other means as outlined in s. 1008.25(6)(b), F.S., for grade placement in either third or fourth grade and to be considered with other information that the district has for each student to provide supports for success in fourth grade. The statute is clear that for this year of transition the districts will notify parents and provide evidence.

The scenario for determining whether students met their language arts and algebra graduation requirements will follow the same general guidelines. 

We will provide an alphabetical list by district of the students who meet the graduation requirement. If scores are validated by both our validation and the third party entity AND after cut scores are determined, if there are additional students who meet the graduation requirement they will certainly be determined to have met the graduation requirement. However, once a student in this cohort has been determined to have met the graduation requirement that will not be taken away from that student.

In a separate attachment, the DOE summarized other effects of HB 7069. Of note, districts are permitted to change their teacher evaluation systems this year to meet new testing rules, but they are not required to do so. Districts remain responsible for measuring student performance in all grades and all subjects.

Read the document here.

Testing continues through May. Afterward, a panel will select an independent group to review whether the Florida Standards Assessments are valid, from questions through administration. Gov. Rick Scott has selected St. Johns superintendent Joe Joyner to sit on that selection panel. The Senate president and House speaker have yet to name their choices.

The report is due no later than Sept. 1.

[Last modified: Friday, May 1, 2015 11:34am]


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