Statement By Commissioner of Education Gerard Robinson Regarding Proposed Changes to Florida’s School Grading System

Florida has worked very hard for more than a decade to implement and support ground-breaking education reform and I am extremely proud of our successes. As we move toward a new age of education for Florida’s children, it is important to recognize our triumphs and build upon our hopes for the future of public education.

The proposed changes to our school grading system are not only necessary to continue on the path of intelligent reform, but they will help ensure that Florida is prepared to compete on a global level. Under our current school grading system, it is possible for a school to receive an ‘A’ grade when three out of four students cannot meet Florida’s grade-level standards for reading. This is unacceptable.

We need an education system for Florida that is exceptional, not merely acceptable. It is my goal to ensure that every student has the opportunity to be counted and to experience world-class public education. These proposed changes are the result of important discussion and contributions made by all stakeholder groups including superintendents, educators, and experts across the state. And this is not a week-old discussion. The Florida Department of Education has been discussing school grade changes with stakeholders since May 2011.

There has been a great deal of conversation about the proposed changes and I believe strongly that talking about the future of education in our state is healthy. In this instance, I think it is important to understand that much of the discussion is based on estimates, not concrete projections. We have created many school grade simulations using various scenarios to illustrate the potential impact of proposed changes. One simulation, for example, includes grading all schools that serve students with disabilities; however, we are reviewing alternative options for schools that serve only these students.

 I want to assure the citizens of Florida that I will consider all of the viable options as I review the valuable feedback received regarding the proposed state board rule changes to our school grading system. This feedback will be part of our healthy conversation as the State Board considers these proposals at their meeting on February 28, in Tallahassee.


16 thoughts on “Statement By Commissioner of Education Gerard Robinson Regarding Proposed Changes to Florida’s School Grading System

  1. I am very pleased to see the direction in which we are heading because, “exceptional” is quite a different mindset than,”acceptable.” This paradigm shift, in time, will serve our state well.

  2. Pingback: Florida Ed Commissioner Gerard Robinson’s Transparent Rhetoric | Scathing Purple Musings

  3. As a teacher in a public school in our state, I am saddened by the continued berating that teachers receive for not bringing students “up to par.” When will we begin to hold parents accountable? When will we realize that not all children will fit in the box we have created??!?! Life is full of people who are low, people who are average and people who exceed all expectations. Sure we hold high expectations for all, but not all will meet that goal. That is our reality. If you expect children with severe learning disabilities to score the same as a child who has no learning difficulties, you are delusional. Factoring in the scores of those children brings down the scores of the rest. That is just not fair. We work to serve each child to reach his/her potential, wherever that is. Please reconsider!

    • @Jeanne, I think you are coming from a place where we hope teachers avoid. A mindset that all children aren’t equal when they are with some exceptions. Teachers who have students that aren’t on par need to step out of the box and speak with those parents on how to help their student. Most parents want the best for their children and they are hoping that either a teacher can show them how this is done academically or either take a personal interest in the child. We want teachers that believe that every child can exceed expectations and are interested in helping their students achieve that goal. I sincerely hope my gifted son don’t cross your path or have you as a teacher. Quit before you destroy more children.

      • Shontell, It is clear from your initial statement that you are responding from a place (mindset) where we should all pray parents avoid, that being one based on emotions and not logic. After reading your response to Jeanne several times, I have reached the conclusion that you may agree more with Jeanne than you believe. I do not think Jeanne is advocating unjust treatment of students, however, she is only pointing out the obvious, students are as varied as the general public. (I noticed you mentioned that, “they are with some exception”…..So, you too are aware of the fact that NOT ALL students are the same.) I also noticed that you used of the words “MOST parents” but I failed to see why anyone would have a problem with holding “ALL parents accountable” as Jeanne simply suggested. In addition, “wanting the best for a child” is NOT that same thing as DOING what is BEST. Moreover, “HOPING” someone will “show” you how to do something is just that, “HOPING”. I almost sounds as if you want the school and/or teacher to be the PARENT. The bottom line is by the end of your statement it became clear that like Jeanne, you are among the rest of us who realize the value of an education. I just HOPE, like Jeanne, more people will think first before blaming or bashing teachers. Remember: It takes a VILLAGE to raise a child!!!!! (p.s. I think you should set an example for your child and apologize to Jeanne for attacking the “person” and suggesting she has destroyed children based off on that post, is unacceptable!) (p.s.s. If you think the of sheltering you gifted son is something to be desired, it is you who “may” be destroying a child.) note…….the word was…… “MAY”.

      • Look at the pot calling the kettle black…I owe no one an apology for my opinion. Just as you gave yours I am entitled to mine. Btw I had a hard time following your last sentence, I guess that’s the result of your Florida education. Next time make sure you proofread and edit before posting. 🙂

  4. But, most importantly, these test scores largely reflect whom a teacher teaches, not how well they teach. In particular, teachers show lower gains when they have large numbers of new English-learners and students with disabilities than when they teach other students. This is true even when statistical methods are used to “control” for student characteristics.
    The above excerpt speaks of value added gain scores and was lifted from this Education Week article.>

  5. The VAM Model is not the final product for Teacher evaluations. It’s an important component to what should be part of the final system used. Districts and Unions have BOTH struggled to find common ground for improving instruction and student achievement. I served on my Districts committee to reform evaluations and soldiered through these same arguments being rehashed across the country. The bottom line is this…we have to move forward with an objective, critical and proactive effort to affect change! This move will not be perfect, but it is NECESSARY!

  6. Mr. Robinson,
    I have been researching the topic of information literacy and the correlation with student performance and have found research that corresponds with your thoughts that there needs to be change to Florida’s School Grading System. All I am asking is that you take a quick look at my blog which can be found at and review the facts showing that our students are not information literate and they are being set up for failure.

  7. As a parent and researcher on Education in this country, I find the continued slam of teachers (I am not an educator) under a system in which is outlined to “teach to a test” rather than focus on all elements of learning equally is not productive as the “flat-lined” status of our own FCAT tests show over the last decade. In 3rd grade they are doing well in reading, by 6th grade the scores are falling, by 10th grade they can no longer barely read at all and they certainly are not comprehending what they are reading. This is backed up by the statistics that 50% of the Freshmen College students are being required to take REMEDIAL Reading & Math. Some Education System! The Florida system and the whole NCLB system is a failure and by just changing the name to Race To The Top, changing the content a little and then dumping the Common Core Standards (CCS) on top of that is NUTS! Do you remind all the Florida teachers that they are being held accountable under the CCS which were written by a NON educator and paid by Bill Gates!

    Additionally, your position on Jeb Bush’s “Chief’s for Change” has you serving 2 masters. Since Jeb Bush’s foundation’s main push is for Charter Schools – I really do not understand how you can support the Public schools effectively and at the same time be pushing for Charter Schools.

    Parents need to understand the fastest growing business in the country is “charter school consortium’s” and with practically NO “oversight” by your office I might add, it is no wonder we are seeing more and more scandals surrounding Charter Schools.. At the very least even though the FL State Constitution gives full and total control over each district, I would think your office would have some say in allowing Gulen Charter schools with funding from this nationally known Turkish “Islamic” terrorist. Failing Charter Schools which are allowed to go on for 2-3years before being closed – what is that doing for our children?

    Also, most parents are not aware there are FL legislators who own or have a financial interest in some of the Charter Schools in the state and are voting on legislation of same. Where is the moral responsibility in that? Even to the point of complaints lodged against this behavior given to George Levesque the FL House attorney and he finding “there is no problem.” Interesting he is the husband of Patricia Levesque, Jeb Bush’s current Chief of Staff or whatever her title is at the Foundation and she, working for Jeb Bush and her lobbying firm are pushing Charter Schools.

    Add into the mix the allowing of International curriculum’s into our schools with, once again, NO oversight as to content of the curriculum or textbooks. You would tell me this is a Global World and they need to learn from a wider outlook. I propose to you sir, if someone wants to work upon graduation in a Global market they can specialize in that field rather than putting our children through Indoctrination by the socialized International Baccalaureate Program (IB) which is costing the taxpayers of this state MILLIONS of $$ each year for a minimal number of students WITH ABSOLUTELY NO REPORTS HAVING EVER BEEN DONE SINCE IT’S INCEPTION IN THIS STATE IN 1983 AS TO IT’S EFFECTIVENESS.

    I would like to inform anyone reading this that the Florida Department of Education is in agreement with the International Baccalaureate Program of UNESCO in the form of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” In other words, the FDOE has not a clue what the IB program is teaching our children – again NO oversight.

    In addition, if they need a GLOBAL education, than why can we not provide it without the intrusion of the United Nations?

    How about the GLOBAL schools being started with ASPNET curriculum from the United Nations with taxpayers now funding GLOBAL schools?

    Why not take all the money being spent on “undocumented – no effectiveness” – “socialist Earth Charter” curriculum and put it into the betterment of the public school education. OPT OUT OF RTTT – DUMP THE CCS – IMPLEMENT THE TEXAS CURRICULUM – and stop playing games with our children’s education and ultimate future.

    BETTER YET – HOW ABOUT ALL PARENTS TAKE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THEIR CHILDREN AND HOME SCHOOL? Some parents do understand that is what you are afraid of since you have been talking about putting together legislation against Home Schooling!

    If anything, what needs to happen is a full and complete over haul of the FDOE to include all the uninformed workers there and the lack of accountability on the part of your office, the FL State Board of Education and all who oversee the futures of our children.

    I SUPPOSE YOUR OFFICE APPROVES OF AN ISLAMIST IMAN WHO IS ON THE FBI WATCH LIST BEING ALLOWED INTO A HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY HS 3 YEARS IN A ROW WITH NO SUPERVISION. That’s right – that teacher has full open reign to do as she pleases because she is the FL State chairman of the organization “United Nations in America” and her ineffective school board and Jeb Bush friend Mary Ellen Elia support the teachers actions.

    —– and that school board and superintendent of schools totally ignored the objections to this of the parents stating “they were following Sunshine State Standards!” I would like to see where in the standards that is since no one in any office in Tally knows! They do not even know what is in our children’s textbooks and furthermore, could care less!

    One last question sir! What is your opinion of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) thinking they have the right to intrude into our children’s education? Doesn’t the thought of that just give you a very warm, fuzzy feeling?


  8. Commissioner, I find it very disappointing that when a taxpayer of this state posts a reply on your blog that is the truth, it is not posted. There were no inappropriate language used – only the truth which has been gathered by many different individuals and personal information. This fact will also be told to parents in Florida – since in effect the only responses here are apparently going to be of a positive note and not always the truth. Along with the job comes criticism,some that falls directly to you and some does not. The Education in this state needs to be fixed.

  9. I find it mandatory to address the unacceptable omission of truth too often permitted in the session where including ESE and ELL students into the broken school grades system was discussed before the SBOE. Too many folks were allowed to present as if ESE students were out there without a single protection while they have about twenty pages of procedural safeguards, the opportunity to file formal complains to the state, and due process rights. Amazingly, people spoke as if there was no such thing as an IEP, a legal document which is to contain observable and measurable growth goals. Why weren’t these incorrect presentations after incorrect presentations challenged ?

  10. I find the FCAT and it’s implementation to be a meaningless gauge of nothing but a teacher’s ability to teach a cram class. In the IT field, in the 1990s and early 2000s, the industry was flooded with a glut of useless “paper MSCEs” and MSCDs, CSSPs, CompTIA A+ certs and so on – people who no more knew how to administrate a PC as they did fly a space shuttle. But you know what? They spent thousands of dollars in “boot camps” and “cram classes” at fly-by-night agencies that guaranteed to turn them into IT professionals over a week (or often weekend). *All they taught anyone was how to take an exam.* The IT market collapsed, many of these skill-less people who had *no practical experience* got dumped back into the job sector, but convinced that because they’d spent $10k-$20k and crammed for two or three tests, then they’re still IT professionals. So the market is self-overvalued and flooded…flooded with people who have no business in it. Anything that “wasn’t covered on the test” is beyond the scope of these paper techs, and when confronted with a real test of actual skill, they fail. They page, they make phone calls, they spend hours frantically digging through Google and downloading manuals to try and fix issues that, had they actually been taught how to understand their career track in the abstract, they would have no problem addressing.

    What bearing does this have on the FCAT? I’ll tell you exactly what bearing it has: THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT TEACHERS ARE FORCED TO DO TO THEIR STUDENTS, AND THE NET RESULT WILL BE IDENTICAL. Teachers can’t teach practicals, they can’t teach abstracts, all they can do is run a 100 day cram school that gets broken up for lunch and recess. And the outcome will be the same. Oh, congratulations, Mr. Robinson you raised graduation rates .1 % in the state! What a HERO you are! But guess what? You take *any* of these kids you’ve pushed through the diploma mill you’ve built and try to get them to think off of the cram track? You’ve got a confused and frustrated youngster. Except they don’t *have* a handy manual or a more experienced person to show them in a pinch how to think abstractly, or resolve something that WASN’T ON THE TEST.

    Too long? Don’t want to read it? How about this: D-. SEE ME AFTER CLASS.

  11. Pingback: Florida Schools Get One Year To Transition Into Tougher Grading Standards | StateImpact Florida

  12. Once again I ask the Commissioner what kind of game we are playing with our children’s futures. The teachers can only teach what is given to them. We asked you not to play the RTTT or CCS game and you refused to listen because it meant more money for the state. What is that money being used for? Computers and a system to be able to publicly furnish all the information regarding our children? How about the $2B additional coming into the budget? I wonder if that money will be any more effective than the $100M Hillsborough County got in 2007?

    Why not take the best interests of the children to heart, dump RTTT, CCS and let us implement the Texas curriculum of which is the best in the country and we have it in hand? It would allow:

    1. Teachers to teach with phonics not by RTTT which is nothing but ESEA renamed
    2. It would get rid of the failed FCAT tests even though your friend Jeb Bush and his father were behind it
    3. Get rid of the CCS which were written by a non-educator and paid by Bill Gates to do so and could care less about our children or their education.

    Money and more of it is not what needs to happen unless you are going to pay back the Feds for the RTTT and CSS money you received, pay of the outstanding debts of the Charter Schools that are closing and raise our teachers up to a level that is reasonable. You might even take some direction and entice the school district’s to stop using our money to fund the superintendent’s pockets instead of teachers and the students.

    Get rid of all foreign entities within our schools.

    Again I will state for you, I am not a teacher nor have I ever been, but I do have a brain and have researched the mess of the education system in Florida over the past 12 years. The cronyism and lack of oversight is killing the education within this state. As yesterday’s FCAT’s are showing the world, the continued example you try to use us for the rest of the country just gave everyone a great big laugh!

    We need to take care of our own house before we try to be an example to others! Jeb Bush and Michelle Rhee stay home – we do not need or want you here! Charter schools are ramped with scandals – your idea of “for profit” schools is not an ideal platform for our children!

    It certainly would be gracious of the Commissioner if he would take the time to respond to questions presented to him! Maybe this mess could be fixed!

  13. Pingback: The FCAT Spring | Scathing Purple Musings

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