School superintendents requesting state to eliminate A-F school grades this year

Some Central Florida school superintendents are requesting that the state not grade schools this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Public schools in Florida are normally graded from A-F by the Department of Education. Seminole County School Superintendent Walt Griffi believes that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a grade this year would be a misrepresentation of school and student achievement. He expressed his concerns in a letter to the Florida Department of Education

“I think it would be really unfair for a school to drop a letter grade,” said Griffin. “It doesn’t really show the normal performance that we have in a regular school year.”

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Griffin is concerned about what a letter drop could mean for schools.

“Families use that for decisions. Where to move, what county to live in,” Griffin said.

Griffin says while many students are doing well, there are also many who are still struggling. He says some students missed curriculum and the focus this year has been trying to keep students safe.

“Safety and health have taken an upper-tier to achievement and rightly so,” Griffin said. “The grades wouldn’t reflect what we did with health and safety the grades are all about academic achievement.”

"Nobody can rationally deny the catastrophic impact the pandemic has had on families and on schools," said Orange County School Superintendent Dr. Barbara Jenkins in a statement supporting Griffin's request. "Dr. Griffin makes a compelling case for FLDOE to assess student learning without inflicting punitive consequences associated with our accountability system. I absolutely support his request and have shared similar thoughts with the Chancellor in the past. I also believe teachers, support staff, and principals have worked too hard this year to have their efforts judged by a single and inaccurate letter grade. I suspect that the final determination may depend on who is in leadership at the US Department of Education after the election."

Griffin said he’s proposed students still get normal grades, report cards, and take state tests. 
“We do need to measure to see how our students really have done during this pandemic,” Griffin said. “To use the individual student data for student placement, for summer school to get us set on the right foot for next year.” 

The Florida Department of Education says state tests and assessments are crucial saying in part: 
Assessments of all types – federally mandated, state-mandated and locally created – are critical tools to ensure that students are growing and improving toward their individual unique goals. Moreover, assessments are tools to ensure students are receiving an equitable education, assessments assess college readiness and assessments support current and future teachers’ efforts to help students grow and overcome their unique challenges in achieving their goals.