Florida superintendents call on State Board go easy with school grades
With FCAT results now public, many Florida school and district leaders have turned their attention to the grade that comes at the end of all the number crunching, most likely some time in mid July.
Education commissioner Tony Bennett did little to assuage concerns last week when he asserted that grades are expected to drop. And that bothers superintendents, who have suggested that the grades should reflect the increases in student performance and not go down because of changes to the formula between 2012 and 2013.
"The ever-changing nature of the School Performance Grading formula and its resulting outcomes continue to confuse the public and further erode trust in the state's accountability system," Highlands County superintendent Wally Cox, president of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents, wrote in a letter to State Board of Education chairman Gary Chartrand.
Cox suggested that the State Board should take actions to mitigate the rule changes, which include increasing the passing score on FCAT Writing and adding Biology I end-of-course exam result to high school grades. The FADSS ideas were:
- Continue using 3.0 as the FCAT Writing passing score, rather than 3.5, for another year.
- Continue the practice of not allowing a school grade to drop by more than one letter, through 2013-14.
- Average high school science points using 2012 FCAT and 2013 EOC biology results.
- Redistribute middle school acceleration points to 75 points for participation and 25 points for performance.
The State Board next meets June 18 in Tampa, where it might discuss these issues. Bennett made clear during a call with reporters that schools might feel some short term pain, but over the long haul they'll benefit from the gains. He said the state would work with districts to explain to parents the changes that they're seeing.