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Florida Education Commissioner Announces Resignation

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After a year of difficult headlines for public education in Florida that included criticisms of state testing and accountability standards, Commissioner of Education Gerard Robinson has announced he will step down Aug. 31.

Mr. Robinson was appointed by the state board of education in June of last year, after serving as the secretary of education in Virginia. In his July 31 resignation letter to Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, and state board Chairwoman Kathleen Shanahan, he cited the difficulty of living far away from his family as a factor in his decision. His family still resides in Virginia.

Mr. Robinson pointed to new outreach efforts to teachers and parents and improved opportunities for students with disabilities and English-language learners as major accomplishments.

“During 2011-12, we have broadened the conversation about the importance of preparing our students for colleges and careers through common-core standards, supported creativity and innovation in PK-20 education, and strengthened public-private partnerships,” he wrote.

On Aug. 2, the state board announced that Pam Stewart, chancellor of the state’s public schools, will take over for Mr. Robinson while the board searches for a new commissioner.

But Mr. Robinson has also faced major controversies during his tenure, including a precipitous drop in student-proficiency rates on the state writing assessment in May that prompted the state board to lower the passing score on that test. The events provoked criticism about the state testing program.

Even when the state education department announced, less than two weeks before Mr. Robinson’s resignation letter, that it was raising the preliminary A-F grades of 213 schools after fixing a scoring error, the news prompted further criticism about the state accountability system’s value.

Vol. 31, Issue 37, Page 4

Published in Print: August 8, 2012, as Florida Education Commissioner Announces Resignation
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