Florida education officials are taking steps to undo requirements that schools for students with significant cognitive disabilities are rated on the same scale as other public schools.
For the first time, Florida is including the performance of most students in its grading system this year, a concession the state made to have many of the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law waived. Some of the changes meant including the scores of all students with disabilities and nearly all students learning English and grading special education centers where students with the most significant needs attend. The changes took effect at the same time the state's tests in reading, math, writing, and science became more difficult.
The result: School grades across the state dropped, and they could have plummeted further had the state board of education not taken action to keep any school from dropping more than a single letter grade. (That escape hatch disappears next school year.) And at schools that exclusively enroll students with the most severe disabilities, F grades are expected all around.
But in a letter to the editor published Saturday in the Tampa Bay Times, Florida Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson said that he understands the concern about applying the same performance standards to special education centers as other schools, "especially those with students who have significant cognitive disabilities."
Read more of Nirvi Shah's On Special Education article HERE.