On January 6, the State Board of Education is set to make some important accountability decisions — here's what you need to know
UPDATE 1/6/16: The State Board of Education approved Commissioner Pam Stewart's recommendations. You can see the impact of that in the visualization below. Read more about the decision here.
On Wednesday, January 6, the State Board of Education is set to vote on some important school accountability measures.
The first has to do with passing rates for the Florida Standards Assessment, which was given for the first time in spring 2015 — but we still don't know how students did. The second has to do with the way school grades are calculated. Because of changes to the law, and because of the implementation of the new Florida Standards Assessment, the state board will also be making some significant changes to how school grades are calculated.
And lest you think this will be the end of the discussion, there is talk once again of taking this topic up in the legislative session when it begins on January 12.
Here's a summary of what's under consideration.
*****SCROLL ALL THE WAY DOWN TO USE SIMULATED GRADES IMPACT TOOL TO SEE HOW DIFFERENT ACCOUNTABILITY PROPOSALS WOULD EFFECT YOUR DISTRICT*****
Decision 1: Cut scores for the Florida Standards Assessment
This is a debate that you have probably heard something about by now, because the State Board of Education has been talking about it for a while. If you want to refresh your memory here and here.
In essence, the board will be deciding what constitutes a passing score on the Florida Standards Assessment at every grade level in math and English language arts. Right now, Commissioner Pam Stewart has put forward recommendations for cut scores that some have deemed too high (mostly superintendents), and others have deemed too low (including some SBOE members and advocacy groups).
Bottom line: No matter what the vote, the new cut scores are likely to mean that fewer students will be performing on grade level in English language arts and math — the question is a matter of how many fewer.
Decision 2: School grading changes
Here's where things get even more complex. In addition to considering the cut scores for the Florida Standards Assessment (also known as the FSA), the State Board of Education also needs to decide on a new "rule" — based on state law — for school grades.
As we outlined in this explainer post, the board will have to decide how to calculate the new school grades once the new cut scores and state law are taken into consideration.
School grades are based on a number of factors, including student performance on the FSA, student learning gains from one year to the next, graduation rates, and so on. Schools then have a total number of maximum possible points thy can get based on those factors (they differ for elementary, middle and high schools). The grades are then based on what percentage of the total possible points a school gets.
There are several proposals out there, including not only the Commissioner's recommendations but also some alternative proposals.
For each, there is a simulation of how it would affect schools across the state, including here in Duval. Jason Rose, our Data & Research Director, visualized those models below in terms of the impact on school grades. Bottom line: The question under consideration is where to draw the cutoff lines for what constitutes an A, B, C, D or F. What's still not clear is how this will affect 2015 versus 2016, because learning gains will not be available for 2015. Grades are typically calculated on points that include learning gains, but it appears that the baseline (2015) grades will not be.
Play around with the below visualization, and let us know what you think! Want to make your voice heard on this issue? Make sure to email the State Board of Education members with your thoughts — you can find their contact information at the FLDOE website.
How to use the visualization below:
Use the top left box to toggle between the state as a whole or individual districts.
Use the top right box to toggle between different proposals to see the differing impact that each one would have.
Roll your mouse over the dots to find out what school specifically it refers to.
Questions about the data? Email Jason Rose at email@example.com.