Influential Miami-Dade Superintendent of Schools Alberto Carvalho ripped into Florida’s entire accoutability system in an afternoon press conference today. Miami Herald reporters Laura Insensee and Michael Vasquez were there:
State education administrators, who are in charge of grading schools and students, failed to follow their own formula.
In fact, they forgot part of it.
The error means 48 schools in South Florida will get higher, revised grades: 31 in Miami-Dade and 17 in Broward.
The mistake has piled more doubt on the state’s accountability system.
“A flawed accountability system that forgets to embed a critical element in its formula … is an accountability system that needs reform,” said Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho Monday. “And those that lead it need to consider the implications of their actions.”
The state’s accountability system has come under fire by parents who think their children take too many tests; by teachers whose evaluations now depend in part on test scores; and by educators who believe the state has made too many policy changes, too fast. The state Department of Education announced the revision of letter grades at 213 schools statewide —with the most in Miami-Dade — in a news release late Friday night. All had their grade raised one letter grade.
Carvalho joined the chorus of criticism, even though Miami-Dade schools benefited from the correction. “I have lost confidence in an accountability system that is not only ever-changing but fails to accurately depict student learning and the effectiveness of teachers,” he said.
Carvalho said his staff will review all the data for schools and students to make sure there are no other errors.
In terms of reform, Carvalho said he wants to focus first on students who are learning English and special needs students.
In addition, Carvalho said he was concerned about teachers’ evaluations, which will rely heavily on student data this year.
“When there are so many questions being asked, we have to pause and ensure, before we take the next step, that all the cogs are aligned,” he said.
So much for Florida policy-makers having weathered the storm like state board member Aksay Desai boasted last week. Its guys like him who were called out by the superintendent of the state’s largest district today. But Desai isn’t alone in deserving the state’s ire. Neither is Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson, a decent fellow, who is merely serving as the public face of this disaster for higher-ups and terribly flawed pieces of legislation.
If Florida’s accountability system continues to collapse onto itself, the consequences will be felt across the nation. Florida is where the rubber meets the road for the education reform movement and the reputations of it’s rock stars. Carvalho is the most significant Florida public official to condemn what Florida schools are operating under. If the collapse continues and more voices join Carvalho, Jeb Bush, Arne Duncan and Michelle Rhee will start to lose their exalted statuses and find the media not so fawning.