Writes Jeff Solochek in the Tampa Bay Times:
Florida’s A-F school grading system, respected and copied in other states, faces a credibility test here where it began.
For the second straight year, the state Board of Education is contemplating possible revisions to the grading calculation because of concerns that the test scores they’re based on could make the schools look bad.
A year ago, board members lowered the FCAT writing passing score after learning that students fared poorly under stricter standards and school grades would likely suffer. This year, the board directed that a task force look into superintendents’ concerns that a return to tougher policies threatened to drive up the number of F schools.
School grades are intended to be a consistent measure of how schools are performing. But as Florida has discovered over the years, the formula needs to be changed from time to time — either to raise standards or to account for glitches like the looming perception problem that gave rise to the task force.
The goal, board chairman Gary Chartrand said, is to make sure the system is accurate and valid, while maintaining high expectations. Time is short, as grades are due in July.
“It may be late, but it’s not too late,” Chartrand said, as he instructed Education Commissioner Tony Bennett to form a group to recommend any necessary fixes.
The task force meets Monday
Emphasis mine. (Insert long, sighing exhale here)
So Florida education policymakers are making what become the annual attempt tweak its school grade “accountabilty” system designed to “raise the bar” for Florida’s schools.
Floridians are probably asking the following:
Is it because last year’s was flawed? Or the previous year’s too easy?
Whatever it is and whatever it will be, the whole thing has become a folly of immeasurable proportions in that we have no comparable measurements, and thus, no measurable accountability. And worse for Jeb Bush, no Florida miracle.
You can’t compare this year’s oranges to last year’s pears and say they are better than 2005’s apples.
What’s different about this year’s tweak?
We’ve got a task force!
Yea, a task force! That’s the ticket!
What’s so special about this task force?
Maybe not so much who is on it, but who isn’t.
Along with five hand-picked district superintendents, the task force includes education commissioner Tony Bennett FDOE Deputy Chief of Staff Will Krebs, Education Coordinator, Governor’s Office Kim McDougal, Director, Data and Policy, Jacksonville Public Education Fund Jason Rose and FDOE Chief of Staff Dale Chu.
While it’s clear the task force could be dominated by Bennett – he brought Krebs and Chu with him from Indiana – it’s shocking to see no policy wonks from either Bush foundation. Over the past decade no quorum of this level didn’t include top Bush advisor Patricia Levesque. No one would have dared not.
There is one non-governmental representative in Jason Rose from Gary Chartrand’s Jacksonville Public Education Fund. Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education has several policy wonks. Is this some sort of changing of the guard or a snub? Has Levesque become a lightening rod?
At any rate, the BOE’s task force to address Florida’s school grade formula is going forward without the influence of Jeb Bush.