The Fatal Disconnects in Florida’s Education Accountability System and the Emerging Education Industrial Complex

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December 8, 2012

SB 736 found 97 perecnt of Florida’s teachers to be pretty darn good or better. So how does that justify 289 D and F schools, poor graduation rates and high remediation needs (54 percent) of Florida freshmen needing remediation?
By: Bob Sikes – Scathing Purple Musings
When Florida’s interim education commissioner Pam Stewart took the stageyesterday before the Senate Subcommittee on Education Appropriations to spin the release of SB 736 teacher evaluation data, her focus was on form and nuance. The only voice coming from the thicket was that of Sen. Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee). This fromFlorida Current reporter James Call:

“You telling me that a first grade teacher’s evaluation will be dependent upon students who perhaps that teacher had never seen?” said Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee.

“That is correct,” Stewart said. “There are some districts that have assessments that do measure first grade teachers and kindergarten teachers and some that do not.”

Naturally Stewart has a self-preservation gene and knew how to hit the tough question out of the ball park:

“That is correct,” Stewart said. “There are some districts that have assessments that do measure first grade teachers and kindergarten teachers and some that do not.”

Stewart conceded the system is off to a rough start.

“Any time you implement anything this large there are growing pains,” she said. However, she said she is confident any flaws in the evaluation system will be found and corrected.

“What I am hearing you say is that we are on track, we’ve got some challenges, but there is no reason at this point for us to move away from what we have established in public policy in regards to teacher evaluation,” Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, said in a summary of Stewart’s remarks.

“That is exactly what we are saying,” Stewart said.

You really didn’t think Stewart would say anything else, did you? She at least wants to keep that cozy chancellorship gig. Nor does she want to stop getting those invites to stuffy Tallahassee soirees.

At any rate, it appear that Florida’s public school teachers are awwwwwwesome, baby. I mean even using observations and test scores? And 97 percent?  As this whole exercise is all about making teachers accountable, lets take a look at how these numbers compare with other accountability measures. Let’s first focus on high schools.

StateImpact and Florida Center for Investigative  Reporting piece this week found that  a whopping 54 percent of Florida college freshmen need some sort of remediation. ma

……….In 2010-11, 54 percent of students coming out of high school failed at least one subject on the Florida College System’s placement test, according to an investigation by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting and StateImpact Florida.

That meant nearly 30,000 students – high school graduates – had to take at least one remedial course in college.

There’s more. I made sport of the FDOE’s message massage of Florida graduation rates, but Palm Beach Post editor Jac Versteeg points out that we are finally getting an honest look:

Florida once used a formula that artificially inflated the state’s graduation rate. For example, Florida counted as graduates students who dropped out and tool the General Education Development test. The GED test serves a useful purpose, but it never was intended to show that someone had earned the equivalent of a traditional high school diploma.

Now Florida is using a graduation-rate formula that is becoming the national standard. In an overview released last week by the U.S. Department of Education, Florida’s 71 percent graduation rate for 2010-2011 put the state sixth from the bottom. It is better to have that honest picture than for Florida officials to continue fooling themselves — and parents.

Floridians were told and teachers were lectured that SB 736 would help assure that “every child has access to a quality education.” And according to SB 736 data, Florida’s teachers are doing more than their part. But what does it say when graduation rates and remediation rates don’t reflect this? Are there other factors at work? Poverty, perhaps? That can’t be it. No excuses, right?

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