Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bennett challenges superintendents' solutions to school grading

Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett made few promises Monday after listening to a task force of superintendents push for adjustments that would improve this year's school grades at the eleventh hour.

He said all ideas were on the table, and he was "open to dialogue."

But he made clear his discomfort with one of the superintendents' key requests — that the state continue to protect schools from dropping more than one letter grade in a year.

Bennett suggested during questioning that he thought it would be "misleading" to continue the protection, which was implemented in 2012 and is slated to expire this year.

"If you're really a D, but you get a C … this is an issue where I'm kind of struggling," he told a panel of educators meeting in Tallahassee at the direction of the State Board of Education. "It is not really in the spirit of transparency."

Miami-Dade superintendent Alberto Carvalho argued that making adjustments is "not at all dishonest." He said it would acknowledge that the state has made it difficult, if not impossible, to explain the swings in student performance on the FCAT and end-of-course exams.

In recent years, Carvalho and others said, changes such as harder tests and higher passing scores were put in place so fast that teachers and students did not have time to adapt. That caused trauma in the trenches, Escambia superintendent Malcolm Thomas said.

"If we had just done one or two of these, it might have been digestible," Thomas said. "But the fact that we are doing all of this and more … it has become traumatic."

The state needs to have a system that instills confidence in its accountability system amid such concerns and questions, they said.

"It is extremely important we get this right," Hillsborough superintendent MaryEllen Elia said.

Bennett and the superintendents agreed that whatever they do needs to fit into a long-term transition to new tests and standards known as the Common Core. The commissioner committed to keeping districts involved in that transition.

The state board directed Bennett to set up the task force after hearing from superintendents last month that the public will question a predicted disconnect between dropping school grades and steady test scores. The latest school grades are expected to be released this month.

Bennett told the group he would consider their advice as he crafts a proposal for the state board. He expected to have a draft by the end of the week and to ask the board for a vote by July 16.

He also thanked the superintendents for focusing on improving the accountability system, and not looking for ways to pad school grades — something he said was the overwhelming view of what happened a year ago when the state board changed the FCAT writing pass score amid poor student results.

Bennett challenges superintendents' solutions to school grading 07/01/13 [Last modified: Monday, July 1, 2013 11:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. One of the best places for investing in a rental house is in Tampa Bay

    Real Estate

    Two Tampa Bay ZIP Codes are drawing national attention.

    . If you're looking to invest in a house to rent out, few places are better than  ZIP Code 34607 in Hernando County's Spring Hill area, according to ATTOM Data Solutions.
[LANCE ROTHSTEIN   |  Times
 file photo]

  2. Bucs' Vernon Hargreaves: 'I'm not making any plays'

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Eli Manning gathered his receivers together on the sideline during the Giants' Week 4 game against the Bucs and told them he planned to target the weakest link of the secondary all afternoon.

    Patriots receiver Chris Hogan gets position in front of Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves for a 5-yard touchdown pass in New England’s win on Oct. 5.
  3. Suspect in Maryland office park shooting is apprehended

    Nation

    EDGEWOOD, Md. — A man with a lengthy criminal past who was fired from a job earlier this year for punching a colleague showed up for work at a countertop company on Wednesday and shot five of his co-workers has been arrested, authorities said. Three of them were killed and two critically wounded.

    Harford County, Md., Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler shows a picture of Radee Labeeb Prince, the suspect in the workplace shootings.
  4. Lightning's J.T. Brown to stop anthem protest, focus on community involvement

    Lightning Strikes

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Lightning wing J.T. Brown will no longer raise his first as a protest during the national anthem before games.

    J.T. Brown says he will work more with the Tampa police and groups that serve at-risk young people.
  5. The two Ricks tangle at what may be final debate

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — In what was likely the last mayoral forum before the Nov. 7 election, Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker started out small, discussing neighborhood issues like recycling and neighborhood funding. They ended tangling over familiar subjects: the future of the Tampa Bay Rays, sewage …

    Ex-Mayor Rick Baker, left, and Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, debated familiar topics. The Times’ Adam Smith moderated.