Testing in Florida: An Overview
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By GreatSchools Staff
Florida School Grades
The A+ Plan for Education is Florida's blueprint for improving schools and providing accountability. Schools that do well receive financial awards, and schools that need improvement receive financial assistance. The A+ Plan also includes provisions for eliminating social promotion and raising standards for teacher certification.
Florida School Grades show how well students are performing against the state standards. Schools get grades based on:
- Overall performance of their students on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT), the state's standardized test
- The percentage of eligible students who take the test
- Whether or not students have made annual learning gains in reading and math, with particular attention to the reading and math scores of the lowest 25% of students in the school
Here are some key points of the A+ Plan for Education:
1. All public schools get letter grades on an A to F scale. Schools receive grades based on a complicated point system. A school's grade makes it clear to the school, the parents and the general public where the school stands. School scores are sent home to the parents, published on "report cards" on the Florida Department of Education Web site and publicized through the media.
Schools that receive a D or F grade are eligible for financial assistance from their district and the state, as well as additional staff to help with school improvement, while schools that receive an A or show significant improvement may qualify for monetary rewards known as School Recognition Funds.
At least 95% of students (excluding severely emotionally disturbed, autistic and limited English proficient students) must take the test for the school to receive a grade of A. For all other grades, at least 90% of students must be tested, or the final grade may be lowered by one letter grade. If a school that otherwise would be graded B or C does not make adequate progress for two years in a row, its final grade is reduced by one letter grade, unless the school develops a School Improvement Plan. If a school that otherwise would be graded A does not make adequate progress in the current year, its final grade is reduced to B.
For a complete explanation of the state's school grading system, go to the Florida Department of Education's Florida School Grades page.
2. The A+ Plan ends social promotion. The state has provided funding to schools for remedial efforts such as after-school tutoring, mentoring and small class sizes. Each district is required to create a pupil progression plan which spells out grade-level standards and requirements for passing from one grade level to another. Different districts have different promotion requirements, but all districts are required to specify proficiency levels in reading, writing, math and science, and to consider FCAT scores as one gauge of student achievement.
Students who score at level 1 (out of 5) in reading on the FCAT in grade 3 are supposed to be retained for another year; school districts can make exceptions. Students must receive a grade of 300 or above (out of 500) on the grade 10 FCAT in order to graduate.
3. The A+ Plan raises standards for teachers. The A+ Plan raises the bar for teachers by increasing initial certification requirements, recertification requirements and admission standards for entry into colleges of education. Colleges of education are also rated on their performance, and their ratings are published in their college catalogs.