Florida's school grading system, a first-in-the-nation plan in place since 1999, would get overhauled, if Gov. Rick Scott signs into law a bill, SB 1642, passed by the Florida House today. The bill, already approved by the Senate, simplifies and, in some ways, toughens the A-to-F school grading formula.
The new formula would kick in next year and would mostly use data from Florida's new standardized tests to grade the state's public schools. The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, the linchin in the current grading system, mostly is being retired to be replaced by a new series of exams aligned to the state's new academic standards.
The bill does not provide the multi-year transition between grading systems that many school district superintendents wanted.
It does hold off on sanctions for poorly graded schools for one year -- though the public would still know that school was deemed a D or an F, for example.
The new grading formula focuses mostly on whether students achieved proficiency on new language arts and math exams, plus FCAT science and end-of-course exams in algebra, biology, civics, geometry and U.S. history. It also looks at whether they made "learning gains" in math and reading, even if not proficient yet.
For high schools, the formula considers graduation rates and the percentage of students who've qualified to earn college credit (though Advanced Placement program and the like) or "industry certifications."
Gone are bonus points for students taking certain classes and penalties if a certain percentage of students didn't improve.
The grading scale would also be overhauled, so eventually it would look more like the A-is-a-90-percent-or-above system used in schools.
The grading scale also would get tougher once 75 percent of a group of schools (elementary, middle, high) earned A's and B's.
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