by: Leslie Postal|Orlando Sentinel
September 21, 2015
Echoing the fears of his colleagues around the state, the Miami-Dade superintendent said the A-to-F school grades to be announced in several months will be misleading and unfair and the state should stop their release.
Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of Florida’s largest school district, told the State Board of Education that releasing grades this year is “not a best practice,” potentially misleading and likely “reckless.”
The grades will be based on student scores on the new Florida Standards Assessments or FSA.
Despite a validity study that said Florida could fairly use FSA scores in its school grade calculations, some remain doubtful, Carvalho said. But even if the scores are fine, the state’s grading system this year isn’t fair, he said, because it does not count “learning gains,” or how much a student improved from the prior year.
Since 2002, those gains have counted for half a school’s grade, allowing campuses where students struggled on state tests to still earn decent grades, if many students showed lots of improvement.
But that calculation requires two years of data and that is not available in 2015, FSA’s debut year.
So this year’s A-to-F grades — due out in December or January — will be based only on the percentage of students who passed FSA’s language arts and math exams.
Superintendents fear that grading system will lead to far more lousy grades than seen in recent years.
Carvalho said that grading system will undermine the public’s confidence it what he called an already “fragile” school accountability system.
Board members said they understood the superintendents’ concerns but could do little as state law required the annual release of school grades.
But they also said state leaders needed to communicate to parents and the public how the grading system changed this year.
“If we don’t have an accountability system that’s trusted in the state, then shame on us,” said board member Gary Chartrand.
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