From the editors of the Miami Herald:
Too many students are being set up to think they are failures by the very people who say they are pushing students to excel. Their teachers will see their hard work in front of the class undercut. And parents will think, wrongly, that their children are attending substandard schools.
In a state system that rewards high-scoring schools with more money and penalizes lower-performing schools by withholding funds, the new state standards will do damage not just to institutions of learning. The quality of schools is a large factor in home values. An “A” school that plummets to a “C” will ding values throughout a neighborhood.
Florida wants its students to perform ever better on standardized tests such as the FCAT — a laudable goal. But for the past few years, it has taken a wrongheaded approach.
The state has continually fiddled with the school-grading formula, making more than a dozen changes this year alone. The grading standards have been changed midstream, and it stands to demoralize teachers and students — even if students have tested better than the previous year — and send horrified parents in search of educational alternatives.
Unfortunately, Florida continues to tamper with the school grading formula, despite the objections of district superintendents, teachers and parent groups.
FCAT writing standards have increased from 3 to 3.5. However, accountability measures will compare last year’s percent of students scoring 3 and above to this year’s percent of students scoring 3.5 and above. This likely will result in a significant loss of points for schools, even when the percent of students scoring 3.5 when comparing 2012 to 2013 increased substantially. Those changes will mean that though students performed better, schools that received performance grades of C last year may be facing F grades this year.
This is patently unfair, an inaccurate and misleading portrayal of many schools’ progress.
The Herald correctly points to the reality that Florida will have to adapt to a massive shift in curriculum and testing when Common Core begins in 2014. They unfortunately put too much faith in the task force that has been assigned with oversight of potential changes in the grade formula. With the majority of the task force too personally invested in test-dominated accountability, no real change can be affected.