Education board vice chairman proposes alternative school grades formulas
State Board of Education Vice Chairman John Padget says a new formula proposed by Education Commissioner Pam Stewart to calculate school grades doesn't meet the "high standard" lawmakers asked for, so he's proposing three alternatives of his own.
The board is scheduled to decide a new school grading formula, as well as cut scores for the new Florida Standards Assessments, during its meeting Jan. 6.
How school grades are calculated is important, in part, because the Department of Education uses those grades to dole out school recognition dollars. In 2014, $124.1 million went to high-performing schools across Florida.
Under Stewart's proposed rule, released earlier this month, schools would need to earn only 62 percent of possible points in order to receive an "A" grade. Schools would get a "C" if they received between 41 and 53 percent. A simulation the Department of Education produced showed that the distribution of school grades under her new formula would be largely unchanged from 2014 to 2015.
In a letter to Stewart and the rest of the state board on Monday, Padget said "it is disingenuous to expect the same results" when the Florida Standards Assessments — student performance for which is one of the factors in determining school grades — are supposed to be more rigorous.
Padget also criticized Stewart's proposed formula as "not user-friendly" because the difference in percentage points between grades varies and the bar isn't set high enough for schools to receive good grades.
"The bar to be a top-rated 'A' school should be challenging, meaningful and higher than the 62 percent in the proposed rule," he wrote. He also took issue that schools with a score of less than 50 percent could get a "C," which state law defines as "making satisfactory progress."
"A simple, transparent, and logical A-F scale is a precondition to ensuring that our Board of Education delivers the result that the Legislature intended," Padget wrote.
He provided his fellow board members with three alternative formulas to consider in advance of the January meeting. The one he said he personally favors — "Option 1" — would set the benchmark for an "A" grade at 70 or above, with 10 percentage points separating A's from B's, B's from C's, etc., and all "C" schools would score 50 percent or higher.
Padget is also resisting Stewart's recommended cut scores, because he says they aren't tough enough. On that issue, some board members appear ready to side with Stewart.
Here's Padget's letter to the board: Download JRPletter28Dec15
And here are the options he's presenting in more detail: Download GradingScaleOptions123