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Florida's Public School Grading System Gets a Big, Fat 'F'

Society & Culture  (tags: americans, children, culture, dishonesty, education, family, government, politics, safety, society )

- 1767 days ago -
Some parents say the grading system simply never worked and this latest development is just additional proof.

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Kit B (276)
Tuesday July 23, 2013, 9:05 pm
Photo Credit: Photo: Jon Schulte

Every year, letter grades are handed out to each public school across the state of Florida.

Parents use the passing, failing, or mediocre grades to decide whether their child’s school is adequate. Also, these grades can impact everything from teacher pay and bonuses to property value. Critics have long questioned the system, which was created by former Governor Jeb Bush, because the grades are based primarily on standardized test scores.

As it turns out, the naysayers were right in questioning their validity.

Florida state officials have admitted that these grades are no longer a perfect way to gauge how a school performs. There are now tougher standards in math and science, and over the years, there have been more than 60 changes in the formula used to grade schools.

As a result, about a third of the schools could see a grade drop this year. Some schools could even sink two or three letter grades.

Last week, the state’s Board of Education finessed the system, again, for a second year in a row to create an “emergency safety net.” That means regardless of how badly a school is performing, it will not be permitted to drop more than one letter grade.

Some parents say the grading system simply never worked and this latest development is just additional proof.

“School grades based on test scores never gave anyone any information other than the socioeconomic status of the surrounding neighborhood,” Rosemarie Jensen, parent of two public school students in Florida, told TakePart.

“From the beginning of this ridiculous system, everyone said, ‘Well we know what schools will be an ‘A’ and which ones won’t.’ The game is to make public schools appear to be failing so more for-profit charters can come in or maybe lawmakers can convince parents to demand vouchers.”

Even members of the Board of Education said that the system, which has been copied by other states, has become overcomplicated. Once based on the reading, writing, and math portions of the state’s standardized test, officials later added more subjects, graduation rates, and other exams.

“What began as a pure grading system, a pure measure, over time has become overly nuanced,” Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett said, according to the Sun Sentinel.

As Florida prepares to implement the Common Core State Standards in 2014, the grading system is likely to be completely overhauled.

Jensen, who is an active member of her children’s school PTA, said that other factors, aside from how well students do on standardized tests, should go into evaluating a school.

“A better way to evaluate schools would be to look at the degrees and experience of the staff. Does the school have a library and librarian? Do the kids have recess, P.E., music, art, a science lab, and foreign languages?” she said.

She also suggested that the Board of Education look at how many guidance counselors a school employs and if the class size amendment is being followed.

Additionally, a school should be graded on whether it offers a broad range of electives, the amount of continuing education teachers receive, and if there are extracurricular activities for students.

“These are all things that parents look for in private schools,” Jensen said. “Public school children deserve all these things regardless of the neighborhood they live in. Every child deserves a fully funded, well rounded safe neighborhood school, staffed by professional educators with education degrees.”

By: Suzi Parker | Take Part Magazine |

MmAway M (506)
Tuesday July 23, 2013, 9:06 pm
Wow, Kit, this was the best article ever on grading! Going to send to a friend that is dealing with this! TU SOOOOO MUCH!!! Great FIND!! xx Hugs and dang, where are the stars when I need em!

MmAway M (506)
Tuesday July 23, 2013, 9:08 pm
I had put down my comment the same time you posted your comment...Still going to copy this news at site sweetie to send out to some of my girlfriends that teach. Perfect!

JL A (281)
Tuesday July 23, 2013, 9:34 pm
the educational quality lip service designed to send tax dollars to private companies

Past Member (0)
Tuesday July 23, 2013, 10:32 pm
Noted. Thanks.

Theodore Shayne (56)
Wednesday July 24, 2013, 10:01 am
I remember when America was the world leader in just about everything. Thanks to globalization and corporatization the playing field has been leveled. The Public School System needs a drastic overhaul.
Learning by rote is one thing; teaching them how to think and adapt which is what education should be about is completely another.

pam w (139)
Wednesday July 24, 2013, 10:22 am
And these children will ultimately VOTE, won't they?


Kit B (276)
Wednesday July 24, 2013, 11:03 am

They may not vote but they sure can be featured on Jay Leno's "Jay Walking" segments.

Kit B (276)
Wednesday July 24, 2013, 11:04 am

If ya think education is expensive, think what ignorance will cost.

Angelika R (143)
Wednesday July 24, 2013, 12:54 pm
Why don't they get rid of this ridiculous screwed system if it has proven to fail.

Mike M (40)
Wednesday July 24, 2013, 3:50 pm
Sounds like the whack jobs are doing their best

Kit B (276)
Wednesday July 24, 2013, 4:41 pm

They don't rid of the system because it makes too much money. Always follow the money.

Suzanne B (246)
Wednesday July 24, 2013, 4:59 pm
thanks for sharing this!

Sheila D (194)
Wednesday July 24, 2013, 8:46 pm
Oh so very glad none of my family lives in FL...that said, wish the whole public school system was overhauled. In an ideal world the schools would all be equal...I know, look how that's turning out for society.
Noted and thank you.

Sheryl G (360)
Thursday July 25, 2013, 9:27 am
Florida isn't the only State on these standardized tests, this article happens to pull out Florida. My children were the first group to have so much of this forced down their throats and us parents along with the teachers tried to fight this. Unfortunately, as with so much, the Corporate monies and mentality, convinced people how wonderful this was, so not enough spoke out.

Ollie: "Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into."

Gene J (290)
Thursday July 25, 2013, 9:52 am
"Critics have long questioned the system, which was created by former Governor Jeb Bush, because the grades are based primarily on standardized test scores."

Will we never be rid of the legacy of this accursed family? GWB's No Child Left Behind legacy in truth left EVERY child, but the rich ones, behind. And Jeb is currently flirting with running himself in 2016. The only one with an ounce of sense, and it probably cost him a second term, was George H.W - the one that didn't hide from military duty. His children are a very poor imitation and he wasn't much either, but he was sure better than his litter.

Kit B (276)
Thursday July 25, 2013, 11:16 am

The testing begins back in the 1980's and I don't believe there is a state that is not doing these standardized tests. Though we have known from the beginning that we learn nothing from the tests. Even in today's computerized world students do need individualized teaching.

Scott haakon (4)
Friday July 26, 2013, 3:23 pm
The system designed for the industrial age is not effective for the information age.
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