The Problems with Florida’s School Grade Formula Cannot Be Fixed

By Greg Sampson 
the most pressing issue generating consensus among the attendees at the
Clearwater Education Summit is the school grade formula. The consensus:
something needs to happen to restore the fairness, accuracy, and credibility of
Florida’s School Accountability scheme.
Thus the vision statement from
the Department of Education: School grades must be fair, simple, clear,
understandable and transparent, based upon student learning outcomes and
objective measures. The school grading system should be statistically valid,
trustworthy and sustainable. It must accurately reflect school performance and
motivate achievement.
They don’t get it. The
Department of Education and the State Board of Education have monkeyed around
with changing standards, performance levels (known as “cut scores”), and
emergency rules that they have lost credibility with educational professionals,
parents, and the general public alike.
Even NASCAR, which changes the
rules every time they don’t like the results, applies the changes moving
forward—to the next race. Florida’s Department of Education, however, along
with the State Board of Education, thinks it appropriate to retroactively apply
rule changes—grading formula changes—whenever they don’t like the results the
formula produces.
When I read the statements on
FLDOE’s website, I come across references that vaguely refer to provisions that
will reset performance levels upward, thus lowering assigned school grades, if
too many schools in a given year make an A or B under the formula.
state it clearly, they change the rules until they get the results they want.
Do you wonder why teachers feel
they are merely grist for the mill?
 The school grading formula is
constantly tinkered with to produce two statements of propaganda for the media:
one, that Florida’s schools excel because of the politicians and bureaucrats
forcing these awful schools to improve (that’s right, they take the credit for
the achievement of people who actually work in the schools); two, they have to
continue to punish the people who work in the schools because they are the
reason schools are failing.
Wait a minute—the schools are
outstanding and awful at the same time?
Does anyone still believe these
is the problem. The Clearwater summit assumes that the Department of Education
and the State Board can be trusted on this. We have learned they cannot be
trusted, even though we do not have a scandal where the grading formula was
changed to accommodate a political donor.
Imagine how that would work in
the classroom. Teacher Jane Doe changes her grading formula so that Johnny, the
star quarterback, no longer has the F he deserves but now passes with a C. When
called into the principal’s office, Ms. Doe justifies her grading change
because it helped 20 other students also.
Tony Bennett resigned, to the
expressed chagrin of our politicians in the State. The logical conclusion is
that they own the problem themselves.
Do you still trust them to be
able to objectively grade Florida’s schools?
Until the State of Florida
outsources its accountability program, which we know as school grades, to an
independent organization outside the influence and control of the politicians
and bureaucrats, you cannot believe in any school grades they assign.
(Greg Sampson is a DCPS teacher on special assignment as the
instructional math coach for his school, which is located on the Westside.)

Step up for Students takes Florida’s taxpayer to the cleaners, spends 1.5 million in tax payer money to lobby for more tax payer money

Only in Florida is
this possible. The state of Florida gave Step up for Students 6.9 million
dollars in 2012 to manage the states voucher program. Step up for Students
then turned around and spent 1.5 million dollars to support pro voucher
candidates who would presumably funnel more money into the states vouchers
program meaning the state would give Step up for Students even more money.
And if you just
said “what the beep” then you aren’t the only one.

According to the state’s
own voucher expert, students that attend private schools with vouchers don’t
experience better education outcomes than their public school counterparts which means
the state government would rather line the pockets of private
enterprises with management fees (see most charter schools as well) than invest in our
students and schools.

Rick Scott’s education record.

This year’s per student funding
is the highest of Scott’s three years as governor. But it is still lower than
each of the five previous years under his predecessors, Charlie Crist and Bush.
Scott also signed into law the legislation that siphons off school construction
money to privately run charter schools. And the governor’s last two handpicked
education commissioners have shown more interest in advocating for charter
schools and expanding voucher programs than in creating successful public

He also stole three percent of teacher’s salary to
balance the state’s books, ended teacher’s worker protections making them at
will employees, called for but did not fund merit pay and created an odious and
unworkable teacher evaluation system

Jeb Bush’s money woes

Jeb Bush says we are spending too much money on education
and that we are not getting a return on our investment. I wonder if he thought
the same way when he sent his children to a private school that cost 28
thousand dollars a year and had small classes to boot.
It’s okay for him to throw money at HIS children’s education
and for them to have small classes and a well-rounded curriculum but YOUR
child’s school spends too much. Speaking of spending too much money, we are the
richest nation in the history of the world, shouldn’t we be spending the most?
Why is that a bad thing? Bush obviously thinks it is okay to spend a lot of
money on his kid’s education.
Furthermore don’t think for a second, having a student centered approach to education is his goal? What does that mean anyways? Do you think any student ever chose to be tested 20 days a year, be put in a one size fits all curriculum and had those things that made school bearable to so many sucked out? No friends it is money, as in the money his family, friends and supporters stand to make.  
In his video he goes on to say our schools lag behind the
rest of the world but the truth is when you factor out poverty, something bush
has never heard of, our school’s scores zoom to the top of list.

So at the end what do we have from Bush? Half-truths
and hypocrisy. 

There have been ZERO formal discussions about teacher raises in Duval County

That’s right friends despite the money being allocated months
ago there have been zero formal discussions between the union and the superintendent.  According to the union they are waiting for
some dates from the super to get talks going. I guess if you make 270 grand
there’s no real since of urgency, not that there seems to be much on the union’s
part either. The problem is teachers don’t make 270 grand and a lot I know are
hurting. People don’t realize it but the vast majority of us went two months
without pay checks and yeah it’s true at the beginning of the summer we may
have been sitting pretty, here now at the end it is the opposite for way to

Where it has been slow going in other parts of the state as
far as I can tell at least it has been going.

Corey Booker needs to get it together

This blog’s first title was, the more Corey Booker talks the
less I like him. Don’t get me wrong. I agree with almost everything he says,
like we do have a system that sets up a lot of people, mostly minorities to fail
and ones sexuality should not matter, only ones character should. Then he
catches Obamaitis and laments about the nations failing school and how they
have let so many down.
I would like to ask Mr. Booker a few questions.
Has a school ever cut a
Did schools create the drill
and kill testing culture that sucks the life out of education.
Are schools responsible for
crippling poverty, absentee parents and the privatization movement that takes
the resources out of schools that can least afford to lose them?
Did schools pass the punitive
and unrealistic No Child Left Behind or the bill that turned education into a
game, Race to the Top?
How were schools involved
with pushing measures that have no evidence that says they work, merit pay, or
who experts say shouldn’t be used, high stakes standardized tests?
Finally did schools fail
neighborhoods or did society fail schools?

Mr. Booker you need to get
it together and stop blaming schools for the problems government created or my
next piece will go with my original title.  

Was the Jacksonville Public Education Fund watching the same education summit as the rest of us?

Oy Vey. The JPEF does some nice statistical work. If you go
to their web site they have some easy to navigate tools that take you to some
good information about schools. But come on now, can they please get on the
right side of one education issue?
They touted this dog and pony show as a success. Sure it was
if you are Pearson or stand to make money off Common Core, then it was a
rousing success.  However if you are a
parent, teachers, or student things did not get better.
Common Core is a roll of the dice. Sorry make that an
expensive roll of the dice.
Merit pay is still unfunded and still doesn’t have any
evidence it works.
The teacher evaluation system is still a disaster only
slightly trumped by the A-F grading system double disaster.
Charters and Vouchers are still siphoning money away from
public schools and providing substandard options.
Where is the success here again?
Then they quoted Rick Scott. “All of the participants and
attendees share a common goal: Making sure that each child in Florida is
prepared to succeed,” said Governor Scott. “The discussion and ideas
generated this week will guide our future decisions and steps we will take
through either legislative proposals, action by the State Board of Education or
executive action.”

not even close to true, voucher and charter concerns were there to make money,
more money that is. And please don’t color me optimistic that this
pro-privatization commissioner and legislature are going to do anything to make
things better because first they would have to admit they made things worse and
that’s never going to happen. 

JPEF how about standing up for students and teachers for a change. 

Why should people believe anything Gary Chartrand says about education?

Gary Chartrand backed away from his values, keep homosexuals in the dark remarks that he may or may not have made at the recent education summit. He said, he was merely saying what he feared other people might say. The Tampa Times however stuck with their story.
The thing is why should the people of Florida believe anything he has to say? He voted for the safety net that allowed schools to fall only one letter grade regardless of performance. Now I think the school grading system is fatally flawed and inaccurate, however he doesn’t, which means he basically said, let’s try and fool the people of Florida.
Then he has played fast and loose with the facts about KIPP, who he loves and the class size amendment, which he hates. He also stood up for Tony Bennett, who basically admitted his wrong doing by resigning just two days after the scandal that he changed the grade of a charter school that was run by a donor, broke.  Friends as far as I can tell Chartrand is not above saying anything to anybody depending on the situation he finds himself. If he told me today was Thursday, I would have to check my calendar and get two independent sources.

John Thrasher, Gary Chartrand, Jeb Bush and Rick Scott walk into a bar…

Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke right? Instead of a bar they are scheduled to have dinner tonight in Miami. From the Herald Tribune:  Scott will have his own chance to talk education issues today, when he is scheduled to have dinner with former Gov. Jeb Bush, state Sen. John Thrasher and Board of Education chairman Gary Chartrand, said Thrasher, who was at the three-day summit. Thrasher said it will be a chance for him to brief Scott and Bush on the sessions.
What weren’t Steve Wise and Beelzebub available? I certainly am glad Bush can get a private briefing not that he didn’t already have a dozen representatives at the summit and since the summit reaffirmed funneling money to testing companies, I am sure it went just as Scott had hoped.
Scott is just a political animal, I believe he would cut education to the bone if he thought he could get away with it but at the same time, I think he would throw billions into it if it helped him get reelected. Woe to education if he does, a lame duck Scott could do some real damage. Bush, Thrasher and Chartrand are another breed all together. They have collectively done incredible damage to our schools and I sincerely believe when the state wakes up, and it has started too, that they will be considered the villains of the story.  
It turns out it is a bad joke after all.