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Rick Scott to enter school grade debate

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott may soon be stepping in to help settle the debate over Florida's new school grading formula.

Supporters of the new, tougher formula — which raises standards, incorporates new tests and places greater emphasis on scores posted by children who are learning English or have special needs — say it will push children to achieve at higher levels.

But opponents, including urban school superintendents, say the state is ignoring the possible consequences, including a spike in the number of failing schools. And business leaders say having more F schools could depress home values and discourage businesses from coming to Florida.

Late last week, Sen. David Simmons, chair of the Senate PreK-12 Budget Subcommittee, introduced new budget language that would require the state Department of Education to hold off on the new grading formula for one year.

Simmons now plans to withdraw the issue.

The reason: Simmons said he spoke with the governor, who "understands the problem and the magnitude, and the need to address it."

"I have his commitment to seek to find a solution after session," Simmons said.

Simmons said it was too early to speculate what that solution might be. But school officials, education advocates and business leaders said it is a step in the right direction.

"I am confident that well-informed people will be participating in those discussions and making good decisions," said Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, CEO of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents.

Rick Scott to enter school grade debate 03/05/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 6, 2012 12:05am]

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