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Is Florida's school grading system broken?

4:36 PM, Jul 18, 2013   |    comments
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Can Florida's school grading system be trusted?

Even state education leaders admit the system has become too complicated and confusing.

In recent years, the state made dozens of changes to raise standards. But in the process, calculating school grades has become an increasingly baffling exercise.

Now the state Board of Education has decided to continue last year's controversial rule prohibiting any school from dropping more than one letter grade, even if they deserve a larger drop.

That means an estimated 154 schools that would have deserved an "F" will avoid getting a failing grade.

Critics say the state is manipulating the truth.

Mark Pudlow of the Florida Education Association said parents and teachers can no longer make sense of the grading system or trust it.

"You're trying to measure something and you're getting it totally wrong and I think if you're going to have a system where you rate anything, it has to be a system that's clear, understandable and can make a valid comparison and Florida is so far away from it now, it really ought to start from scratch."

Pudlow wonders how parents can trust Florida's accountability system if they can't trust school grades. The grades are used to award bonuses to top-performing schools and levy penalties to failing ones.

Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett is urging parents to keep their trust in the system and he hopes to find a way to explain it to them that makes sense.

Dave Heller

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