School Grading

Florida just completed the first year of one of the biggest experiments in U.S. education.

For the first time this year, every grade in every public school used new math and language arts standards that outline what students should know each year. The goal to have is high school graduates who are ready for college-level classes or the full-time work force.

School district and state leaders generally support the switch. Teacher and parent opinions differ about whether the new standards are an improvement.

House Approves Changes To School Testing

Mar 19, 2015

The Florida House of Representatives has passed a bill that reduces state testing requirements. The bill eliminates the new Florida Standards Assessments test for high school juniors. The bill also removes a requirement for local final exams in subjects other than math and language arts. But some Democrats say the bill doesn’t go far enough. They want the state to not use this year’s test results for public school grades or to judge student or teacher performance.

Representative Mia Jones of Jacksonville says the state shouldn’t issue public school grades or make students decisions based on the new test results.

“But when we know that we have already seen that there have been challenges in using this tool, then we know that we need to do something before we put a grade on a school”, said Jones.

A similar Senate bill on testing has big differences from the House version. The Senate bill would cap total testing time. And if school districts have tech problems with the new online exam, the Senate bill would allow those districts to not use test results for public school grades or to judge student performance.

Lawmakers will consider a plan this spring that would fund the state's 12 universities based partly on their performance. That could mean some universities lose money and others gain it.

The new model would divvy up $80 million of the nearly $3.6 billion that Governor Rick Scott is proposing for the university system. And the stakes could grow.

Senate President Don Gaetz told the Florida Chamber of Commerce this week that he and House Speaker Will Weatherford want to set aside $100 million as a performance reward for the universities.

School Grades Could Be Simplified

Feb 13, 2014 via Flickr

Florida's school grading formula could become a little easier to understand when the State Board of Education meets next week. According to a proposal online, the new formula would simplify the grades.

Florida's school grades were intended to be an easy-to-understand way for parents to know how their child's school is performing. But educators have complained the formula has gotten too complicated as state officials added more and more components to the formula.

State schools chief Pam Stewart wants to simplify things a little.

SalFalko via Flickr

A new performance model for Florida universities was approved Thursday by the Board of Governors. If Florida universities don't perform well, they could lose a percentage of state funding.

How well a Florida university performs will be based on a new 50-point system. They'll get points based on things like how many students are pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and math, the percentage of graduates who get a job, and how much those graduates earn.

If a university doesn't receive at least 26 points on that 50-point scale, it will lose 1% of state funding. That university would also be ineligible to receive any additional money for performance funding. Critics of this model say universities that stay at the bottom of the list will lose money every year, especially those that are focused on the arts.

The Board of Governors hasn't yet decided what it would do with funding left over from performance cuts.