School-Grading Changes Stir Debate in Florida
School district leaders and advocates for English-language learners are decrying the recent overhaul of Florida's school grading system that is at the heart of the state's relief from portions of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. They argue that schools serving large numbers of English-language learners will be unfairly labeled with an F.
Following recommendations from state Commissioner of Education Gerard Robinson, the Florida board of education this month approved changes to the accountability system that will include factoring in English-language learners' scores on state tests in mathematics and reading after just one year of instruction. Previously, the test scores of ELLs—roughly 250,000 of Florida's students—were not included in a school's grade until after two years of instruction.
Mr. Robinson said the change was necessary to ensure that Florida does not lose an NCLB waiver approved by the U.S. Department of Education. But the commissioner's decision to ignore all but one recommendation from a task force on how best to incorporate the performance of English-learners and of special education students into the grading system...
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