Gov. Rick Scott has called a three-day summit of business and education leaders to talk about the school accountability system, including standards, assessments, school grades and teacher evaluations. You can see all the materials and watch it online here.
Those are key issues that everyone in our state should be paying attention to. Here's what the Jacksonville Public Education Fund thinks a modernized school accountability system should look like. You can also check out an op-ed on this subject with more details here.
What do you think? Weigh in below! And share your comments with the state - the DOE says that Florida citizens can submit ideas and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and they will be shared with attendees.
It is clear that Florida needs a new school accountability system to meet the needs of the 21st Century. Our school grading system was created to provide an easily understandable way for parents and citizens to gauge public school performance, while creating the expectation that all students could perform at a high level. But Florida's system is now one of the oldest in the nation. We need high standards, multi-state assessments and a modern accountability system that works the way it is intended to and ensures that Florida students are prepared for the future.
Ensure full implementation of Common Core State Standards.
- Common Core Standards were designed by professionals at the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.
- The new standards are not a curriculum. Instead, they outline what skills a student at each grade level should be expected to master, so that when they graduate from high school, they are ready for college and the workforce.
- The standards give teachers more freedom, not less, because they are designed to build critical thinking skills and go deeper into fewer topics, so kids master the material instead of memorizing.
Participate in a multi-state assessment based on Common Core State Standards.
- Without a multi-state, standardized assessment, we won't know how well Florida schools and students are performing compared to their peers around the state and among other states in the nation.
- We can't improve what we can't measure. No assessment is perfect, but without it we won't know what schools and students need the most attention and resources.
Modernize the school accountability system and plan ahead for changes.
- The state should immediately convene a diverse commission to begin working on building a robust, stable and multidimensional school accountability system that will provide meaningful, accurate and easy-to-understand information about schools for parents and policymakers. It should use this opportunity to incorporate lessons learned in Florida and other states over the past decade of accountability.
- This system must be transparent and easy to understand. It should be based not only on proficiency, but also significantly on student growth. And it should rely on more than just scores, taking into account other measures of performance.
- The system should plan to incorporate regular review and revision cycles every 4 to 5 years, to allow for changes if necessary and ensure the system remains stable during off-cycle years.
- When significant changes are made to the system, the state should consider suspending the issuance of school grades and sanctions for one year to prevent improper year-to-year comparisons.
Ensure the teacher evaluation system moves in tandem with the rest of these changes.
- Components of a teacher's evaluation should include multiple unannounced principal visits, student surveys and value-added student growth scores to provide a true assessment of a teacher's skill.
- Growth in teacher compensation should be linked to these multi-metric teacher evaluations.
- Teacher evaluation models should be responsive to changes in standards or assessments when necessary.
-- Deirdre Conner