Jeb Bush’s cronies blinked.
Lost – for now anyway – in today’s hastily thrown together decision by the Florida Board of Education to reduce passing FCAT Writing scores, was yesterday’s sloppy attempt to spin the numbers. Gradebook’s Jeff Solochek reports on this response from board member Akshay Desai:
“There was a huge impact when the number of scorers and their options changed. In 2011, there was only one scorer and the scoring choices were even numbers 1 through 6. Last year, our board became worried about the cutback to just one scorer.
“Happily, the legislature now supports two scorers, with greater differentiation using half-point differences. I think a cut score for the 2012 test at 3.5 is a fair reflection of our students’ abilities, and I’ll probably support the Commissioner’s recommendation.”
Desai’s nuance sounded so good that another board member John Padget emailed the identical note to Solocheck only to back pedal a few minutes later
So who penned the e-mail? Board members are supposed to be independent and shouldn’t be releasing the same statement as if it were their own. Did Desai write it and CC other board members for spin control? Does collaboration like this violate Sunshine Laws? And if Desai is correct and the numbers can be easily explained, why did the board act in less than 24 hours?
What folks may not remember is that the board, which includes Commissioner Gerard Robinson, are now holding the bag on the FCAT cut score increases that Jeb Bush and the Florida Chamber of Commerce pushed through in December 2011. Opponents to the cut score increases were vindicated today by the same board who disagreed with them just five months ago.