State education administrators, who are in charge of grading schools and students, failed to follow their own formula.
In fact, they forgot part of it.
The error means 48 schools in South Florida will get higher, revised grades: 31 in Miami-Dade and 17 in Broward.
The mistake has piled more doubt on the state’s accountability system.
“A flawed accountability system that forgets to embed a critical element in its formula ... is an accountability system that needs reform,” said Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho Monday. “And those that lead it need to consider the implications of their actions.”
The state’s accountability system has come under fire by parents who think their children take too many tests; by teachers whose evaluations now depend in part on test scores; and by educators who believe the state has made too many policy changes, too fast. The state Department of Education announced the revision of letter grades at 213 schools statewide —with the most in Miami-Dade — in a news release late Friday night. All had their grade raised one letter grade.
Carvalho joined the chorus of criticism, even though Miami-Dade schools benefited from the correction. “I have lost confidence in an accountability system that is not only ever-changing but fails to accurately depict student learning and the effectiveness of teachers,” he said.
Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie was more forgiving, saying it was understandable that the state would have some hiccups when working with a new grading formula.
“The state probably made some errors on this,” Runcie said. “They’ve acknowledged that there was a problem, and they did it fairly quickly ... so I don’t know what else folks want out of that.”
Runcie suggested that the focus should be less on school grades and more on improving learning outcomes for every student —if that happens, he said, higher school grades will take care of themselves.
“No one can argue that we’re not anywhere near where we need to be as a state,” Runcie said.
Among the South Florida schools that got newly minted A’s: Sunrise Middle, Silver Lakes Elementary, Ruben Dario Middle and West Hialeah Gardens Elementary. In all, Broward gained another 11 A-ranked schools; Miami-Dade, an extra 13.
Find a complete list in the database at MiamiHerald.com/Schools.
The grade revision follows other turmoil with the state’s testing system. In May, so many students failed the writing exam that the state Board of Education changed the passing score. In June, the Florida School Boards Association passed a resolution opposing the amount of high-stakes testing in schools.
Student scores on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT, drive the school report cards. Schools that make D’s and F’s can face harsh consequences, including the threat of closure or conversion to a charter school.
This year, Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson revamped the formula for calculating school grades. In all, more than 30 changes were made.
Among them, the state board decided to give extra credit to students who previously earned a low score on the FCAT, but who learned more than expected during the year. Robinson’s special task force on English language learners and students with disabilities suggested the change, which the board adopted.