Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The civilized veneer of Florida's school accountability system.

One hypothesis is that Jeb Bush's A-F system is a simple and easy to understand method with easy to interpret results.  But this is Florida mixed in with some educrats, sooo....

The system isn't as complicated as I thought (see for yourself here), but there are some oddities.  For example, most people probably think "90+%" when they hear "A."  For Florida, it's 70% (1120/1600) or better.  So a large block for "A" schools.  It gets weirder:  a B has a range of 65%-70% (1050-1119).  A 5% range for B's? Here's the whole shebang:

 (All scores out of 1600)
A:  1120+  (70%, range of 30%)
B:  1040-1119 (65%-70%, range of 5%)
C:  880-1039 (55%-65%, range of 10%)
D:  800-879 (50%-55%, range of 5%)
F:  <800 (below 50%, range of 50%)

It seems like they're trying to use a standard curve (1600 a la the SAT) and the traditional A-F, but not unsurprisingly, failing at both.  But this isn't even the worst part--it's how they arbitrarily shift the numbers they use in the calculations around.  For example, a week ago

"Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said a key reason for the drop in A-rated schools was that the grading formula was changed to make it more difficult to earn a top grade."

Now rewind two years:

"State education officials panicked, and at an emergency meeting last week, the Florida Board of Education decided in a 4-3 vote that the best thing to do was to lower the passing score on this exam.
Let me repeat that: In order to make sure that students succeeded on the test, the passing grade was lowered."

So, when it comes down to it, all the math, all the calculations mean nothing--the numbers are fudged to whatever looks or feels "right" to the powers that be.  Once again, the math is just there to provide a false sense of credibility.