Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

State Grade Projections More Optimistic Than Vitti; Education Commissioner Says Fewer D's, F's under New State Standards

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

State Grade Projections More Optimistic Than Vitti; Education Commissioner Says Fewer D's, F's under New State Standards

Article excerpt

Byline: Rhema Thompson

Florida's first projection of 2014-15 school grades appears to be a far cry from the scenario painted by Duval Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti earlier this year.

State Education Commissioner Pam Stewart released a list of predicted school grades to superintendents across the state Tuesday - the first to be released since districts administered the controversial new Florida Standards Assessment.

Months earlier, Vitti predicted under the new exam and Stewart's proposed changes to the scoring system, Duval could see more than 100 schools with D's and F's in 2015.

Stewart's proposal to raise the FSA "cut scores" - that is the minimum scores needed to pass the test - will go before the State Board of Education for a vote next month.

The projected grades she released this week are based on the recommended cut scores along with a proposal to change the percentage of points schools need to receive a certain grade.

Should both proposals pass, the state projects about 58 traditional and charter schools in Duval County will receive a D or F grade, slightly higher than the number of schools that received D's and F's - 54 - in the district in 2013-14. One middle school, five high schools and two charter schools in the district were listed with no grade at all.

On Thursday, Vitti said some of the high-school grades are likely to improve if the state factors student acceleration and graduation rates into the final score. He also noted that 75 schools in the district either maintained an A grade or improved their grade letter.

Despite predicting that the number of D and F schools in the district would more than double from last year, Vitti said changes to the state's accountability system since last year make it impossible to compare 2013-14 to 2014-15.

For instance, in 2013-14 the schools were protected from dropping more than a letter grade by a state-mandated safety net. …

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