Putting Education Reform To The Test

Senate Panel Wants School Grade Changes To Wait

The Florida Senate

Sen. David Simmons wants more time to study proposed school grade changes.

Senate lawmakers have pumped the brakes on a Department of Education plan to rewrite rules for grading schools, according to the Miami Herald.

School officials, parent groups and advocates for the disabled have criticized the plan, which would have resulted in 230 additional school earning ‘F’ grades. Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson and the Board of Education have already toned down the initial proposal.

Lawmakers want more time. A Senate committee proposed delaying the new grades by a year.

“As far as I can see, the ramifications of it have not been thoroughly analyzed,” said Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs.

School districts had raised strong opposition to the new grading formula, saying it would dramatically increase the number of failing schools. In response, the state Board of Education watered down the formula, but ultimately decided to move forward.

Simmons worried that having more F schools might discourage businesses from coming to Florida. He also expressed concern about the effect on property values –- and on morale in schools and communities.

“I have thought that you never make someone a champ by calling them a chump,” Simmons said.

Many grading changes have been long-planned, but others are required for Florida to earn a reprieve from federal No Child Left Behind rules.

Robinson has argued the state needs to raise its standards because too many schools are earning ‘A’ and ‘B’ grades. While some schools might see a temporary drop in grade, Robinson believed schools would raise their performance long-term.

Here’s Robinson talking about those changes in a video released last week:




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