Putting Education Reform To The Test

Miami-Dade Says State School Grading System Needs Improvement

While the headline of this morning’s state Board of Education meeting was Miami-Dade and Duval county schools getting another year to turn around struggling schools, the takeaway was a conversation about shortcomings in the way Florida judges troubled schools.

The problem is the state expects more once schools are classified as troubled, school officials said, making it more difficult to overcome the higher bar and pull themselves off of state watch lists.

The Miami-Dade and Duval schools are classified as “intervene” by Florida, the state’s most troubled designation indicating low scores on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test and several years of failing grades on the state’s school report card. But once schools enter intervene status, they are graded on a different scale — which includes Federal No Child Left Behind ratings — than other Florida schools.

Miami-Dade superintendent Alberto Carvalho said that system puts poor-performing schools in a “no man’s land,” unable to exit intervene status despite testing and performance gains. Why? Because No Child Left Behind standards will increase each year until the 2013-2014 school year, when every student must meet basic standards.

That means to exit intervene status schools must achieve different, higher standards than they did when they first entered, Carvalho said, forcing schools to hit a moving target. Florida Board of Education chairman Kathleen Shanahan said the board wants to look at changing the standards for troubled schools, but that those adjustments will depend on what incoming state education Commissioner Gerard Robinson wants.

“I think it’s actually the most important outcome of this meeting,” Carvalho said.



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