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Florida Education Officials Lay Out Timeline For Revamped School Grades, Penalties

The Florida Department of Education is revising its timeline for when schools will begin facing penalties under a revised state accountability system.

The biggest change is next year’s switch away from the Florida Comprehensive Assessment tests to new statewide exams aligned with the “Florida Standards”.

“At this time next Summer, Florida educators will come together to reach recommendations for those cut points, what the levels of achievement necessary for levels 1,2,3,4,5—so the state board can act upon those recommendations for the Fall 2015," said Deputy Education Commissioner Juan Copa.

Summer will mark the start of a year-long pause in penalties for poor performing schools, as the state determines new achievement levels for school grades and the new statewide student exams.

Students will take the new tests in the upcoming school year. The state will then see how students did on the tests, and use the results to set new guidelines for levels of proficiency and determine constitutes an "A through F" school. During that time, there will be no penalties for schools that don’t perform as expected. The penalties will kick back in during the 2015-2016 school year.

Meanwhile, Florida’s contested teacher evaluation system has been revamped by the Florida legislature. Lawmakers scaled back a requirement that some teachers be graded based on students they don’t teach. Florida Department of Education deputy chancellor Brian Dassler says lawmakers gave some flexibility on how to evaluate teachers in subjects that aren’t measured by state exams.

“In those grades and subjects where there’s not a standardized assessment or local assessment, the legislation allows for other or more flexible means of measuring teacher performance for evaluation.”

Teachers outside of areas assessed by the state may not have to be judged using the state’s formula for determining student learning gains. The formula, called VAM, was the subject of a lawsuit. 

Copyright 2014 WFSU

Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas. She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. When she’s not working, Lynn spends her time watching sci-fi and action movies, writing her own books, going on long walks through the woods, traveling and exploring antique stores. Follow Lynn Hatter on Twitter: @HatterLynn.