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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Is Florida Ed Commish Robinson here to help or hurt schools

Don’t pull ‘F’ trigger
The Miami Herald Editorial The Miami Herald

OUR OPINION: Give more time to proposed grading formula
By The Miami Herald Editorial Board,

The Florida Board of Education meets Tuesday to decide new rules to rank public schools and make them more accountable. The focus is in the right place but Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson wants to move too quickly and too broadly to institute the new rules.

It’s a recipe for failure, which is why the Florida PTA, the parents of children with disabilities, the parents of students learning English for the first time — as well as the superintendents of large school districts, including Miami-Dade and Broward — are asking for a transition period for the new requirements.

The so-called “F trigger” would grade schools an automatic F unless at least 25 percent of students score proficient in reading in the new FCAT 2.0. That’s a fine goal to have, but to insist on implementing it in one year, just as the tougher test is also in the works, would be a disaster for urban schools that have high concentrations of students who are poor, disabled or first-time English learners.

Mr. Robinson has backtracked on imposing such draconian requirements on disabled students, but that’s not enough. At the very least, urban high schools should get credit for how far their students have come year to year. Before the state pulls the punishment trigger, let’s give those schools more time, say, two more years, to help students get it right.

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