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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Should the Florida Board of Education extend its school grade 'safety net'?



In each of the past two years, the Florida Board of Education has protected schools from having their state grades drop by more than one level, regardless of student performance.

The move, praised by some as fair and criticized by others as misleading, has always been temporary, via an emergency order that lasts just 90 days. Before he left office, former education commissioner Tony Bennett told the board of his intent to cement the "safety net" in rule -- at least until the state can adopt new tests and revise its accountability system.

On Tuesday, the board will consider that next step. A proposed amendment (see page 87) would remove all date references to the rule that initially prevented multi-letter grade drops for 2011-12. Now, it would simply say, "If the school grade preliminarily calculated for a school based on the points earned in paragraph (5) and the grade scale in paragraph (6) is more than one (1) letter grade below the school’s grade in in the prior year, the points assigned based on subparagraphs (5)(a)1., 2., and 3. shall be adjusted such that the school’s letter grade is reduced by no more than one (1) letter grade."

The board narrowly adopted the "safety net" for the current year, with three members stating the move compromised the integrity of school grading. About 550 schools statewide had their grades protected as a result.

Two of the members who opposed extending the measure leave the board at the end of the year. But their terms have yet to expire. With the state's next tests undecided, and the standards up for review at the request of Gov. Rick Scott, whatever the board decides could have longstanding ripple effect. What do you think the SBOE should do.

[Last modified: Thursday, October 10, 2013 8:38am]


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