Florida school grades drop under new formula – Schools

By Michael Vasquez and David Smiley
mrvasquez@MiamiHerald.com
 
Even though student test scores have held steady — and are in some cases rising — Florida has a record-high 107 F-rated schools this year, state education leaders announced on Friday.
That has put supporters of Florida’s A-to-F grading system on the defensive. And the total number of failing schools only stands to get larger, as letter grades for high schools and some combination schools haven’t been tabulated yet.
The drop in school grades is a result of dozens of changes to the school-grading formula in recent years, at least some of which made it more difficult for schools to perform well. The state says it is “raising the bar” to make sure students are fully prepared for college or a career, but the constantly shifting standards have left school districts and school administrators crying foul.
“If you look at the key indicators, we did go up,” said Kathleen John-Louissaint, principal of Morningside K-8 Academy in Miami. “We are doing well … the grade doesn’t really reflect what we’re really doing as a school.”
Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said, “There is no validity necessarily attached to this year’s A, B, C, D or F.”
Morningside, which dropped this year from a B to a C, had higher math and reading scores for third grade, and higher science scores for fifth grade. Fourth-grade students performed much better on their writing exam, except the state didn’t give Morningside credit for the improved writing performance.
The school’s writing scores are a microcosm of how Florida’s school grades can be counterintuitive. Last year, Florida graded schools based on the number of students who earned a score of 3 or higher on the writing test. The percentage at Morningside was in the low 70s.
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