Putting Education Reform To The Test

More Schools Earn Failing Grades As Florida Prepares For Common Core Switch

The Florida Department of Education has released 2014 school grades for Florida elementary and middle schools.

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The Florida Department of Education has released 2014 school grades for Florida elementary and middle schools.

More Florida elementary and middle schools earned an F rating this year, according to preliminary public school grades released Friday.

But the number of schools earning the state’s highest rating also increased this year.

“The increase in the number of schools earning an ‘A’ this year is great news for students and teachers who have worked hard for this success,”  Commissioner Pam Stewart said in a statement. “I appreciate the work by the educators and families and students and know they will continue to improve in the future even as we transition to a new grading system.”

The is the final year schools will earn grades based in part on results from FCAT exams. Next year the state switches to the Florida Standards Assessment, which will test students on Florida’s Common Core-based standards.

Department of Education officials pointed out 116 schools improved by at least two letter grades.

Miami-Dade schools earned a B rating as a district, but superintendent Alberto Carvalho gave his district an A compared to other large Florida districts.

Forty-three percent of Miami-Dade schools earned an A rating. The percentage of F-rated schools also increased slightly.

But the state grading formula is changing next year as schools finish the conversion to math and language arts standards based on Common Core, switching to a new statewide exam and rating and paying teachers based student test scores. With all those changes, Carvalho said he wouldn’t make big adjustments at low-rated schools.

“We’re not going to look at this year, considering that it is a transitional year,” he said, “as a year that should dictate dramatic changes in leadership or teacher composition.”

Carvalho criticized the the Florida Department of Education for not giving school districts more time to adjust to the new standards, testing and teacher ratings. He doesn’t believe state leaders can vouch for the accuracy of the new exams and teacher evaluation scores.

“The two absolute tests that need to be met is a test of reliability and validity,” he said. “Can the data be trusted? Is it reliable enough? Because the consequences are so dramatic. And I do not believe personally, at this point, the state is in a position of answering those two questions.”


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