The Florida PTA is asking state leaders to consider delaying school grading to give students and schools time to adjust to new math and language arts standards and online tests.
This is the first year every grade is using Florida’s Common Core-based standards and students will take the new Florida Standards Assessment early in 2015.
The Florida PTA is asking:
Allow for proper field-testing and test development in areas with similar demographics to Florida’s diverse demographics — The American Institutes For Research, the state’s new test vendor, is building an exam using test questions developed for Utah. Florida educators are concerned those questions won’t be as valid for Florida, which has a higher percentage of black, Hispanic and low-income students than Utah.
Suspend the issuance of school letter grades until performance data has been deemed reliable — The state Department of Education is issuing grades for public schools this year, but the grades will carry no consequences. The PTA — and others — have asked that no grades be issued this year.
Allow additional testing and calculation flexibility to students with disabilities and students who speak limited English — The new Common Core-aligned exams are expected to be tougher, and even more so for students with disabilities or those learning English.
Consider using multiple years of a new exam as a baseline for generating school grades and teacher evaluations — Florida plans on using this year’s results to set goals for future years. Using multiple years would provide a broader average, but also delay the the use of school grades to determine high- and low-performing schools.
As with others seeking school grading and testing changes or delays during the Common Core transition, the Florida PTA warns the public may doubt the results.
“Without a reasonable transitional time to adapt to yet more new accountability standards,” the group wrote, “and without a fair calculation of accountability grades, the future of our children will remain in flux and the viability of Florida’s accountability system will remain in question.”