(Tallahassee.com) - After another tense debate about the validity of Florida's current A-F grading system for public schools, the state Board of Education voted this morning to keep in place a provision that prevented hundreds of schools around the state from falling more than a single grade for another two years.
In an executive order dealing with state standards and testing, Gov. Rick Scott called for the board to avoid making major changes until after the state replaces the FCAT with a new test during the 2014-15 school year.
Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said the safety net should remain in place until after the state completes its transition to new tests and standards, because officials "don't know what will happen with the new assessment."
The measure approved today was intended to avoid further changes after dozens of tweaks to the formula brought the grading system under fire from school district officials around the state, but two board members voted against the plan, saying it would avoid some of the deeper questions that have been raised about the system. They also questioned whether the temporary protection, first adopted during the 2011-12 school year, should reman in place for a total of four years.
"Isn't that sad that we're sitting here voting on something that's going to have no integrity?" asked board member Kathleen Shanahan, who was one of two members who voted against the plan.
The Florida Board of Education will consider today whether to extend the so-called "safety net" for school grades that prevented hundreds of schools' scores from falling further this summer.
When the board approved the emergency measure earlier this year that prevented any school from falling more than a single letter grade, then-Education Commissioner Tony Bennett said the provision should remain in place through 2014-15, when the state plans to replace the FCAT with a new test tied to the Common Core Standards.
What test that will be is still in question. Gov. Rick Scott has called on the state to abandon its leadership role in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, but Florida remains a member of the 19-state group designing new tests for now, and will also consider competing proposals.
The state board today has also planned a discussion of its plans for the new assessments, and the implications of Scott's executive order. For more coverage of today's meeting keep following updates on Tallahassee.com.