Tight Vote Stops Florida Schools Grades From Dramatic Drop

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By Andy Alcock
July 16, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - Letter grades for many Florida schools are expected to drop this year.

But they'll only drop by a single grade.

On Tuesday, the state's Board of Education narrowly approved an "emergency safety net" to prevent school grades from dropping more than one letter.

It's a part of Florida's accountability system.

Each year, every public school is assigned a letter grade for performance.

With tougher standards, including in writing, the state board of education voted 4-3 to prevent school grades from dropping more than one letter from last year.

"I think they've taken a reasonable approach in understanding that there have been over 60 changes to the school grade formula in the last couple of years," said Leon County Schools Assistant Superintendent Scotty Crowe.

The move comes as roughly a third of Florida Schools are expected to see a grade drop this year due to tougher standards.

A task force found a drop of 80 points in the current 800 point scale could drop a school two or three letter grades.

The agreement to prevent a drop of more than one grade over each of the next two years comes as Florida's schools are transitioning to the new federal "common core" standard in two years.

"Given this transition period, I wanted a specific stop date and I wanted us to be challenged developing a comprehensive plan moving to common core." said Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett.

State Board of Education member Sally Bradshaw voted against the measure.

She says because it was approved, 108 Florida schools will get an "F" grade instead of 262.

"How can we in good conscience let an "F" school become a "C" or a "D" not get the intervention it needs simply to preserve the self esteem of the adults in that school and in that District," said Bradshaw.

Currently, the Leon County system has no "F" schools.

The new school grades are expected to be released by the end of the month.

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