Amid all the celebrations by all the FCAT “A” schools, is there not a certain irony?
The ostensible reason why we have FCATs is that they are an integral part of Gov. Jeb Bush’s means to the end of accountability — and a way to determine voucher qualification. No argument here for the need for more accountability — as well as meaningful standards and consequences for those not measuring up.
But what are we to make of the latest statistics that tell us that more than half of the state’s public schools — more than 1,200 — are “A” schools? That, presumably, is a lot of high-achieving students. Moreover, since 1999, that’s more than a 500 per cent improvement.
Before celebrations turn ecstatic, however, it’s worth noting how a school “earns” an “A.” Half the criteria are achievement-based; the other half is improvement-based, including going from bad to less bad. For example, one Miami school was rated “A,” even though six out of 10 students were reading below grade level.
Even the governor now insists the bar may have been set too low, in part to minimize the impact of poverty on under-achieving students.
As a result, in the good name of accountability and standards, we’ve gotten grade inflation and self esteem scoring. Who would have thought?