Alberto Carvalho went to Tallahassee Tuesday to express his concerns to the Florida Board of Education about the proposal.
The Florida Board of Education backed off Tuesday from a controversial proposal that could have turned many schools around the state into "F" schools.
Under the proposal, a school needed to have 25 percent or higher of its students score proficient in reading on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT), or else receive an automatic “F" grade from the state.
Many people have come out in opposition to the change in recent days, and Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and Hillsborough Superintendent MaryEllen Elia were among those who attended the Board of Education's meeting in Tallahassee to demonstrate their concerns.
After discussing the issue, the board revised the proposed rule so that a school’s grade would drop one letter grade, rather than go straight to “F,” if it failed to meet the 25 percent benchmark, and it also stipulated that it wouldn’t take effect for one year.
Carvalho said he supported the new rule.
“I understand if a school is still struggling and does not have more than 25 percent of its students meeting reading proficiency that a certain consequence be invoked,” he said. “We felt that going from an A or a B or a C to an 'F' was too much. Recognizing a one-letter grade downgrade is acceptable.”
Superintendents, parents, and advocates for disabled students and English-language learners are opposed to the proposal.
The proposal said that scores of special education students and second-year English-language learners would be counted towards a school's grade as well, though they were never previously counted.
The board didn’t approve that move. However, they did decide to appoint a task force to recommend suggestions for a rule regarding special education and disabled students.
Recommendations made by the task force will be considered by the board at the next meeting in Miami.
The federal government is pushing Florida and other states around the country to include special education students in the calculation.
Carvalho said he supports the government’s goal, but pointed out that research shows it can take three to five years to bring a new English speaker to full reading proficiency.
“I think what the department did here today and the state board is we sort of split the baby in half,” Carvalho said. “We reached a compromise.”