Senate President doesn’t like grades decision

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Raising concerns about parents not getting accurate evaluations of their children’s schools, Senate President Don Gaetz said he was not a “big fan” of a state decision to prevent schools from dropping more than one letter grade this year.

“I don’t think you’re really kidding anybody when you say, ‘Well, we’ve got a C school that really dropped to an F school, but we’re just going to give it a D and hope that everybody sort of figures out that this is a school that’s not done so well,’ ” Gaetz said during an appearance this week on The Florida Channel’s “Florida Face to Face” interview show.

Gaetz, a former Okaloosa County schools superintendent, added, “I think when you get an F, you get an F. When you get an A, you get an A. And I think we ought to be honest with parents.” Gaetz made the comments about two weeks after the state Board of Education voted 4-3 to prevent drops of more than one letter grade. That move came after school superintendents said they feared steep drops this year in the closely watched grades. Superintendents pointed, at least in part, to repeated changes in the state’s school-accountability system — 13 this year alone — which they say have made it harder to meet standards and have created uncertainty. Gaetz acknowledged during the interview that changes had complicated the grading system.