New Proposal Cuts Down on School Grading Formula Complication
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Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart wants to simplify what has been criticized as a too-complicated Florida school-grading formula.
Created in 1999, the grading formula was once lauded as a good way for parents to gauge how their child’s school was performing. But a series of changes to the formula eventually altered that.
In 2012, the State Board of Education established a “safety net,” which would protect individual schools from dropping more than a letter grade in a year. The safety net was extended last summer after superintendents voiced concerns that the grading formula was too tough and would result in statewide school grades plummeting.
Earlier this week, Stewart unveiled a new proposal to cut down on certain parts of the formula, virtually demystifying it.
“[The formula] needs to be simpler so that everyone's confidence is back in the school grading system," Stewart told a group of superintendents last week.
Among the changes: cutting out SAT scores and certain graduation rates from the complex formula used to evaluate high schools and requiring schools’ letter grades to drop if less than 25 percent of a school’s students are reading at grade level.
Under Stewart’s proposal, Florida’s schools will be graded on four factors: achievement, learning gains, graduation, and college credit or industry certifications.
The achievement factor takes into account the percentage of students who meet targets on standardized tests while the learning gains factor rates of schools based on how their students performing below grade level improve academically.
Graduation rates would also help schools earn points toward their grade.
School grades have become increasingly important for Florida’s schools over the years -- higher performing schools generally tend to get extra funding while schools that fail face the possibility of getting shut down completely.
Florida’s schools will be seeing some changes next year with Common Core’s implementation as well as a new standardized test to measure academic achievement.
Under Stewart’s proposal, however, low-performing schools wouldn’t be penalized until 2016, and there would still be a significant emphasis on the lowest-performing 25 percent of students.
The State Board of Education will consider the commissioner’s proposal at its Feb. 18 meeting in Orlando.
Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at Allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen.