Putting Education Reform To The Test

Florida Schools Get One Year To Transition Into Tougher Grading Standards


With a tougher grading formula looming for Florida’s schools, state Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson is recommending a plan that would keep any public school from falling more than one letter grade this year.

In a list of recommendations, Robinson asks the Florida Board of Education to “authorize a maximum one school letter grade drop for 2011-12 to allow public school leaders, teachers and students a year of transition into our new standards.”

The Board of Education adopted tougher standards in February. Without the transitional grading proposed by the commissioner’s task force, Robinson says 10 percent of schools would see at least a two letter grade drop.

Robinson’s data shows that 38 schools would get an F if the grading standards did not change at all. Under the new standards, 199 schools would fail. Using Robinson’s transitional grading, 131 schools would get an F.

The board approved the recommendation at its meeting Thursday in Tampa. It also approved changes that will factor English language learners and students with disabilities into the school grading system. The Hillsborough and Miami Dade districts were particularly concerned about those students being at a disadvantage in the grading process.

In all, the board adopted five of 35 policy recommendations developed by the task force at a meeting in March:

  • Florida Alternative Assessment Learning Gains – reduces from 11 to five the number of points required for Florida Alternative Assessment test takers remaining at levels 1 to 3 to make learning gains.
  • English Language Learner Entry Date – authorizes school districts to use the date of entry into a school in the United States as the beginning point for including English Language Learners in Florida’s Accountability System.
  • Maximum One-Letter Grade Drop – authorizes a maximum one school letter grade drop for 2011-12 to allow public school leaders, teachers, and students a year of transition to Florida’s new standards.
  • Weighted Learning Gains for Florida Alternative Assessment and Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test – provides a balanced measure for levels 1 and 2 students who make learning gains that are more than the minimum expected.
  • Center School Gains and Proficiency for Home School Grade – attributes student’s performance and learning gains to the home school if the center school chooses a school improvement rating.


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