TALLAHASSEE Only days after the state Board of Education approved a dramatic revamp of Florida’s school grading formula, state lawmakers tried to take matters into their own hands.
In a surprise move Friday, several key Senators proposed budget language that would put the new, tougher grading formula on hold for one year.
“As far as I can see, the ramifications of it have not been thoroughly analyzed,” said Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, who pitched the idea in the PreK-12 Education Budget Conference Committee.
Committee members from the House would not sign on.
“We view this is as a policy issue,” said Rep. Marti Coley, R-Marianna. “Making that change in a budget committee, in my view, would not be appropriate.”
It will now be up to the House and Senate budget chairs to make the final call.
Simmons said he had also reached out to Gov. Rick Scott’s office for other possible solutions to the school grades dilemma.
Superintendents across the state have raised strong opposition to the new grading formula, which incorporates a new battery of standardized tests and raises student standards.
Among their worries:
Hundreds more schools would receive Ds and Fs. The state Board of Education listened to the concerns on Tuesday and voted to dilute some parts of the new formula.
But board members ultimately decided to move forward with the plan in part because they saidit was necessary forFlorida’s waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law.
Simmons brought up his issues with the new formula on Friday. He said having more D and F schools might discourage businesses from coming to Florida.
He also expressed concern about the effect on property values and on morale in schools.
“I have thought that you never make someone a champ by calling them a chump,” Simmons said.
He added that delaying the new formula by one year would allow for more thoughtful discussion.
Sen. Stephen Wise, R-Jacksonville, said he didn’t mind bucking the state education department on the topic. “We make the laws, they carry them out,” he said.
State Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson, who spent part of the day in the capitol, declined to comment.
Robinson has pushed for the revamp and called Tuesday’s Board of Education vote in favor of the changes “historic.”
School districts wouldn’t mind the extra year.
“We support higher standards and accountability,” said Iraida Mendez-Cartaya, who oversees governmental affairs for the Miami-Dade school district. “But the methodology on how we get there is worthy of additional discussion and public awareness.”