Don’t Play The Rigged High School Grade Game


Let me first stipulate that I am very happy for the people on the ground at Mulberry High and Lake Wales High and the other high schools that improved their school grades en masse. They did not make the absurd and dishonest world they inhabit. They did not ask for the meaningless labels applied to them.

Last year, as Florida Southern College Professor Larry Ross says, they were “a broken system.” This year, the capricious Spaghetti Monster of our state education bureaucracy blessed them with its noodily appendage. So they get to live a year in relative peace. Good for them. I am grateful on their behalf that Rick Scott and the conservative legislature thought it in their own best interests to miraculously improve statewide high school grades in an election year. When they want to resume full-on teacher union-busting after 2012, watch where the scores and grades go.

You doubt this? You think Polk is only place where our high school kids are suddenly much smarter and teachers much better than they were this time last year? Or the year before that?

How about this. “Northeast Florida high schools riding high on new grading system”.

At least the Florida Times-Union noted the real news in the headline.

And there’s this from Dade County:

Florida high schools have raised their grades again, with 25 in Miami-Dade and 17 in Broward getting an A grade.

By all means, principals and teachers at traditional schools, enjoy the bureaucratic fruits of your labors. Most years you are denied them.

However, it would be awesome, just once, to see a high school principal come out and say:

“You know, we didn’t work any harder this year than last. We were just as committed to the kids then as we are now. We endure this rigged game because we think the process of instruction is important. But this grading crap is meaningless; no one in the general public or the media understands or bothers to try to learn how it’s calculated. And even if they did, the faceless people at the DOE would adjust it again to serve whatever political purpose their bosses want. So celebrate or criticize if you want, but I’m going back to work.”

Understand, there is no winning a game in which the referees cheat every year. Don’t be fooled because they came down on your side once. As you can see from the stories above, FCAT grading is going to change again in 2012 in a way guaranteed to drive scores and success down. Thus, your glorious hard work and rigorous curriculum are going to transform magically next year, after the election, into systemic teacher laziness and incompetence again. We’ve got to keep that system broken, right Larry, so McKeel can expand.

Our great challenge as citizens in this country in the coming years is to unrig America. Education is one the prime areas of rigging, arguably ground zero. And Florida may be the worst offender. A lot of my education friends and acquaintances from other parts of the country have a hard time actually grasping that Florida allows schools to do what McKeel does, operate as a massive 2,800-kid charter empire with less than 25 percent FRL. That’s crazy. That can’t be right. That’s what I get.

So understand this, everybody. These grades are not a victory. They are not an indicator of any kind, except the corruption at the heart of many of our key institutions.

Creative Commons License image credit: urbanmkr

2 thoughts on “Don’t Play The Rigged High School Grade Game

  1. Some schools rig it by combining scores with a better school.  Haines City got a good grade, but the grade is a combination of HC high and HC IB.  These are 2 very different schools that just happen to share the same campus.  Bartow has the same issue

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