Putting Education Reform To The Test

Florida Superintendents Want To Replace School Grading System

Florida school superintendents are asking lawmakers to extend the switch to Common Core standards and rewrite school grading and teacher evaluation requirements.

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Florida school superintendents are asking lawmakers to extend the switch to Common Core standards and rewrite school grading and teacher evaluation requirements.

Florida school superintendents are asking state leaders to revamp the state’s A through F school grading system — including eliminating the letter grades — as the state completes the switch to new math, English and literacy standards.

That’s according to a proposal the Florida Association of District School Superintendents released Thursday.

Volusia County schools superintendent Margaret Smith teased the plan Tuesday when she told State Board of Education members superintendents would like an additional three years to transition to the new standards, known as Common Core.

Florida is one of 45 states to fully adopt Common Core, which outlines what students should know at the end of each grade. Supporters say the standards are more challenging and will prepare high school graduates for college or a job. Critics are concerned Common Core is a one-size-fits-all policy, won’t improve schools and may not be appropriate for young children.

Smith said school superintendents support the standards, but need more time to prepare.

The FADSS plan asks:

  • For three additional years to prepare for the new Common Core. Kindergarten through second grade use the standards now. The FADSS plan would add third grade in 2014, fourth grade in 2015 and fifth grade in 2016.
  • Additional training for teachers, funded by the state.
  • Choose a Common Core-tied test with results which can be compared to other states. Therefore, FADSS says a Florida-specific test is unacceptable.
  • Field test the new exam. The new tests are scheduled to be used in early 2015, so field testing might delay that deadline.
  • Require the Florida Department of Education to develop a technology plan that will mean every student has access to a computer or tablet, known as 1:1 in education jargon.
  • The technology plan must include how to pay for the devices, infrastructure — such as Internet bandwidth — and maintenance.
  • Change the state’s teacher evaluation formula so that instructional practice counts for half of the evaluation, student test score growth 30 percent and district-determined goals 20 percent. Those district-determined goals could include student/parent surveys or school improvement. Currently, student test score growth accounts for half a teacher’s evaluation.
  • Modify the mandate that teachers earn an unsatisfactory rating for failing to meet goals on student test score growth.
  • Suspend the state’s current A through F school grading system. State leaders would have until the start of school in 2017 to design a new system.
  • In the interim, schools would not be issued a single letter grade. Instead, they would be measured on multiple factors, such as literacy, numeracy, student growth and more.
  • Add additional factors to elementary and middle school grades — as the state does with high schools — including attendance, parental involvement, discipline and more.

Revamping the state’s grading system is a top priority of the State Board of Education and lawmakers. However, board members have said they strongly support the A through F concept. Outgoing board member Kathleen Shanahan was skeptical of the request to extend the Common Core transition.

State officials are seeking bids for Florida’s next test and could make a decision by March.

Read the full plan below:


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