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Should fine arts factor into school grades?

The grades bestowed annually upon Florida public schools don’t consider how many students take fine arts courses.

Sen. Nancy Detert thinks it ought to.

Detert, R-Sarasota, is sponsoring a bill that would award bonus points to schools that increase the number of students taking arts and music classes.

The Senate Education Committee gave its stamp of approval Monday.

Detert cited a study showing that students who had taken fine arts courses did better than their peers on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests.

“We saw the study and we know that it was across the board,” Detert said. “Black, white, Hispanic, rich and poor -– everyone did better in math and science.”

The Florida PTA, the Florida Education Association and the Florida Music Educators Association all agreed.

The lone voice of opposition came from the Foundation for Florida’s Future, an education think tank created by former Gov. Jeb Bush that supports school accountability and choice.

Executive Director Patricia Levesque said she supports participation in the fine arts, but worried the measure would water down the school grading formula.

“When you add measures that are not outcomes based and not student-performance based, there is an ability to have a lesser measure of quality on reading, writing math and science,” she said.

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