The state of Florida, which under Governor Jeb Bush led the reform movement that uses student standardized test scores to grade individual public schools, miscalculated the grades for hundreds of schools and is now changing them.
Florida gives out grades to schools based on the results of the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test (FCAT). The Board of Education says in this release that it messed up the grades in 40 of the 67 schools, affecting 213 of the initially graded 2,586 schools. That’s eight percent.
The department says that:
116 school grades changed from a B to an A
55 school grades changed from a C to a B
35 school grades changed from a D to a C
7 school grades changed from an F to a D
According to The Miami Herald, here’s what happened:
Education officials said the error came from the way they weighted students’ learning gains. The state passed a rule last year saying that students who scored at levels 1 and 2 on last year’s FCAT and got a third more points than was needed to be considered to have made learning gains on the FCAT this year, would receive a weighted learning gains score. But the state failed to include students who were at levels 1 or 2 last year, but scored at higher levels this year when calculating the weighted points.
Hum, I wonder what exactly that means?
All of this points yet again to the reality that placing so much emphasis on the results of standardized tests is just a bad idea. I’ve been a teacher for over 25 years, and I know that standardized test scores are just one way to measure the performance of my students. Sure, go ahead and use them, but use plenty of other measures as well.
In Florida, as in many other states, each year the state hands out A-to-F grades that are used to financially reward top schools and sanction those that get failing marks. The grades are based primarily on student performance on a series of high-stakes tests in reading, math, writing and science.
Commissioner of Education Gerard Robinson said he will look for ways to improve the grade calculation process.
“The strength of our accountability system depends on the partnership between school districts and the department, and these revisions are a direct result of that process,” he said in a statement
Let’s face it: standardized tests should not be the only measure of how a school is performing. I did not become a teacher to train my students to do well on filling in the bubbles. We need to do better than that.
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