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Florida superintendents stand with education commissioner on proposed cut scores


As the state Board of Education explores setting passing scores for the new Florida Standards Assessments that are more in line with "proficiency" grades on a key national assessment, Florida's superintendents say they're sticking by Education Commissioner Pam Stewart on this one.

The Florida Association of District School Superintendents said in a statement today that they support the long-used process to establish "cut scores" for Florida's standardized tests since the exams began in 1998 -- a move that signals superintendents' opposition to the state Board of Education's suggestion that they might take a different path.

The group says they support Stewart's recommended cut scores, which came this fall after input from more than 300 educators and stakeholders. Stewart's proposed cut scores are generally higher than the state’s previous standardized test (the FCAT 2.0); she told Board of Education members last month that that “demonstrates that the trend in Florida has been to increase the rigor” of exams.

But state education board members indicated they felt that Stewart's proposal didn't go far enough. They asked Stewart's office to provide information about how cut scores are defined for the National Assessments of Educational Progress and desired suggested scores that would be within 10 points of NAEP's, in the interest of potentially making FSA's passing marks more competitive with national standards.

But Florida's superintendents said, "to deviate from the established Florida Department of Education (DOE) process negates the process itself and calls into question the need for the process. It also further undermines public confidence in Florida’s already fragile accountability system."

The state board is due to set cut scores for the FSA at its January meeting.

While the superintendents agree with Stewart's position on cut scores, they continue to oppose efforts to use results from the new FSA to issue school grades for the 2014-15. They, like other educator groups, want the initial test results to serve as a baseline from which to judge students' and schools' progress in future years.