Florida’s successful melding of challenging academic standards, rigorous assessments and a robust accountability system have resulted in record increases in student achievement – especially for struggling students.
Statewide assessments, along with grades and teacher feedback, are a critical part of a broad toolkit that provides students, parents, educators and policymakers with a fuller picture of what students have learned. Asking students to show what they know is important to ensure they are meeting education standards that prepare them for success in life.
In this time of uncertainty, end-of-year statewide assessments are more important than ever. Despite the best efforts of teachers and parents, school shutdowns due to COVID-19 severely disrupted student learning - especially for low-income students, rural students, and students of color. Many students lost instructional time or lacked reliable access to the internet for online lessons.
Statewide assessments help ensure that every student counts and that they’re getting the education they need to graduate from high school, go onto post-secondary education and reach their full potential. Statewide assessments provide the only comparable and consistent data about where every student stands academically and which learning models are the most effective in supporting student learning.
Coherent systems of assessments include an annual standards-based state assessment of learning and locally selected assessments for learning.
Florida has made significant progress over the year in improving assessments. In 2015, legislative leaders reduced the number of assessments, limited the amount of the time for state and local assessments to no more than 5% of classroom time, and improved transparency by requiring the Florida Department of Education and school districts to publish an assessment calendar.
In 2017, legislative leaders passed legislation to provide teachers with more time to teach; minimize disruption to student and school schedules by moving the state assessment to the last three weeks of school; and shorten the state testing window from nine weeks to four weeks.
The law also required that parents receive easy-to-understand, parent-friendly score reports that include:
Visit Florida Department of Education K-12 Assessments to learn more about assessments in Florida.
“For too long we had essentially patted students of poverty and students of color on the head and claimed they were ‘doing the best they could.’ Turns out we were wrong. And through Florida’s accountability system, we provided those students with their civil right of rigorous content, high expectations and high achievement.”
“You don’t have to mine the data to show the remarkable success story behind Florida’s A+ Plan. Whatever variable you look at, Florida’s educational renaissance has been extraordinary.”
All states are required by federal law to publicly report each school’s academic performance. Unfortunately, many states use vague labels or colors that raise more questions than they answer.
Thankfully, Florida grades schools on an A-F scale, which every parent readily understands. These grades are determined by evaluating overall student performance and progress, with an extra focus on struggling students, and, for high schools, graduation rates and students’ college and career readiness.
Having the knowledge about whether their child’s school is meeting the needs of its students gives parents – and communities – the power they need to ask questions and help drive academic improvement.
Measuring student performance and progress both are essential to ensuring all Florida students are receiving a quality education. It’s why Florida has continued to see academic improvements year after year, even as other states experience declines and/or persistent gaps between different types of students.
In 1999, Florida made the revolutionary decision to grade schools on an A-F scale just like students. Florida’s A-F grading system, has been proven to enhance transparency, improve student learning and establish a pathway for more students to graduate ready to succeed.
An A-F School Grading policy that measures what matters: overall student performance and progress, with extra focus on struggling students, and graduation rates and college and career readiness in high school.
School grades are calculated annually based on up to 11 components, including student achievement and learning gains on statewide, standardized assessments and high school graduation rate. School grading works by holding all schools to the same high expectations and clearly communicating the results to parents. Visit the Florida Department of Education for more information on school grades.
Florida’s 2018-19 school grades show the number of schools earning an A or B increased and the number of schools earning a C, D or F decreased.
It’s not surprising to see an increase in the number of high performing schools, considering the most recent statewide test results and national assessments show significant increases in Florida’s student performance in both math and reading.
These results reflect 20 years of sustained commitment and progress since the state’s school grading system began. They show that focusing objectively on student learning leads to improvements in academic achievement.
Highlights of the school grades release also include: