The Miami Herald reports that some Florida public high schools have been able to improve their state-sanctioned grades by outsmarting the system.
Previously, high schools were given grades based entirely on student scores on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (aka the FCAT). But this year the state implemented a new grading formula. Now the FCAT accounts for only half of the school’s grade; the rest comes from graduation rates, the percentage of students earning a minimal score on the SAT and ACT and the number of students in advanced courses.
This has caused some schools to push students to take accelerated courses. The state does not grade the school by how many students pass the courses, only by how many students enroll.
This has allowed some schools to see significant improvement in their grades, despite the fact that students are not necessarily learning more. According to the Herald,
At long-struggling Miami Edison Senior High, 23 percent of the student body was enrolled in accelerated classes, helping Edison rise from an F to a C.
Just 9 percent of Edison sophomores earned passing scores on the reading FCATs.
Education officials are planning to further change grading criteria, likely making it harder for schools to maintain high grades. Next year enrollment in advanced classes will count less and passing the class will count more.