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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Florida State Board of Education to hear pleas for school grade lenience



The release of FCAT and end-of-course exam results in recent weeks drove home the point for many Florida superintendents that school and district grades are unlikely to be good this summer. Changes to the grading formula, combined with higher testing standards, threaten to push the grades down, they argued in a recent letter to State Board of Education chairman Gary Chartrand.

Several superintendents plan to make the case in person this morning when the Florida Board of Education meets in Tampa. They want the board consider easing its way back into tougher grading rules.

Miami-Dade superintendent Alberto Carvalho is one of those leading the charge. He wrote a column for the Miami Herald detailing his concerns:

"We are committed to high quality education, utilizing data to analyze results and individualize instruction and ensuring educational accountability; however, the methodology employed must be reasonable and not unnecessarily demoralize and disincentivize teachers and students.

"Unfortunately, Florida continues to tamper with the school grading formula, implementing over a dozen changes this year alone despite the objections of teachers, superintendents and parent groups. Those changes will mean that though students performed better, schools that received performance grades of C last year may be facing F grades this year."

Carvalho suggested that the public hasn't been adequately prepared for this "market adjustment" and put forth that the State Board could serve as a moderating force.

"Recent history has demonstrated that when faced with unreasonable recommendations by the FLDOE, the State Board of Education has been the voice of reason, placing the interests of students and teachers above bureaucratic dictates. On the eve of the Common Core standards shift, the greatest threat to the integrity of Florida’s accountability model is a disconnect between increased student performance and decreased school grades. The time is now for the public to call on the state to evaluate schools in a manner that is fair to students and educators and stop playing what amounts to a shell game with our system of accountability."

The board has three new members since it last considered school grading, so the dynamic could be very different this time around. At least one board member has said the schools and districts knew about these grading changes and should have been prepared. Stay tuned to see if anything changes.

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 6:43am]


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