Utah realizes the A-F grading system is terrible and so should Florida

You know what Florida’s A-F grading system really shows? It
shows teachers where not to work, who wants the extra stress and scrutiny
especially since they will now be paid on how hungry kids without much family
involvement mired in poverty do on a standardized test. And where the poor
people live as the schools in those neighborhoods tend to get the worse grades.

Utah has started picking up on this, from
the Salt Lake Tribune:  By
PAUL ROLLY
Now that the Utah
Legislature-inspired school grading system has been exposed for the joke that
it is and lawmakers are spinning, ducking and finger-pointing to avoid
accountability for their own ineptitude, it’s time to debunk the myth that a
similar system was adopted by Florida.
Utah conservatives who have
attacked public schools for years like to trot out former Florida Gov. Jeb
Bush, whose initiative for school grading is credited for improving education.
But they ignore other initiatives in that state that have done the same,
including a citizen initiative to keep class sizes manageable.
 They also fail to mention that Florida has moved the bar in its
grading system several times, which by itself could account for perceived
improvement.
An analysis in the Tampa Bay Times
last June said the constant moving and tweaking of the grading criteria have
eroded the entire system’s credibility.
In Utah, it took legislative
leaders about a week after the controversial school grades were released to
call a meeting to talk about how to massage it. This was after Senate President
Wayne Niederhauser and other leaders refused to meet with educators before
posting the grades.
Now, having made utter fools of
themselves with their grading system, legislators are talking about the very
issues they refused to discuss with educators. If the legislative leaders are
not embarrassed by what they did, they should be.
Take West High School, for
example. It was named in a U.S. News and World Report as one of the nation’s
best schools. But Utah’s flawed system gave it an F.
In a face-saving move, legislators
called a meeting last Tuesday with education groups to discuss tweaking the
grading system. But the omissions in the list of invitations indicate that
those behind the grading criteria are still trying to game the system.
Not invited was Utah Education Association
President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, who has been vocal about the need for a
more accurate grading system. She was part of the coalition meeting with
Niederhauser before he pulled the plug on those meetings and let Utah Parents
for Choice in Education, which advocates taxpayer funded private school
vouchers, write the grading system bill.
Also shunned was the Utah PTA,
whose public education advocacy has put it in the crosshairs of some of the
Legislature’s leading conservatives. Prominent among the invitees, however, was
Judi Clark, executive director of Parents for Choice in Education, who is
responsible for this fiasco in the first place.
Given the imbalance, some
education groups that were invited refused to attend, and instead sent a letter
to bill sponsor Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, who had referred anyone asking
questions about the legislation to Clark.
The educators are asking
Niederhauser to initiate a third-party evaluation of the grading law “to
determine its statistical reliability and validity and to gauge the extent of
its bias as it relates to students from poverty, with special needs or with
language bariers.”
In other words, they want
objective evaluators, not led around by the nose by those with private school
agendas.

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