Daily Archives: August 23, 2018

Defending Manatee Schools against FCSBM lies (again)

For background: Elizabeth Djinis’ coverage (Sarasota HT) of yesterday’s meeting is here.
From: Charlie Kennedy
Sent: Thursday, August 23, 2018 6:33 AM

Mrs. Ziegler,

At yesterday’s Tri-County School Board meeting of the Charlotte, Sarasota and Manatee County School Boards, I asked you why you would make a public accusation against Manatee Schools in your role as President of the Florida Coalition of School Board Members.    I reminded our Board colleagues that not only did the Florida Department of Education find those allegations unfounded, but noted the practices employed with middle school students, in regards to the Civics EOC exam, was beneficial to the students.   Honestly, all I was seeking was an apology from you, our neighboring county’s school board chairwoman, for an unfair accusation.

However, instead of a simple mea culpa, you instead chose to compound the false accusations by lying to everyone in the room – including our Board colleagues, Superintendents, staff and assembled media.  Specifically, your defense of your actions in saying “Manatee County wasn’t named in the press release” is proven false by your own press release of Tuesday, June 26.

As you can see below, Manatee County was named in the subject line and body of the press release.

We, as board members, are role models for the students we serve.  In leading those students, and our school districts, we must hold ourselves, and each other, to the highest ethical standards.   Further, in our role as Board members, we should not only be held to account for our failures, but also rise to defend our employees and students from false accusations.   For all of these reasons, I speak again to defend Manatee Schools.

Charlie Kennedy
School Board of Manatee County

———- Forwarded message ———
From: MVP S&P Media Alerts <info@mvpstrategy.com>
Date: Tue, Jun 26, 2018 at 10:51 AM
Subject: Testing Irregularities Cause Florida Coalition of School Board Members calls for investigation of school grade inflation in Duval, Manatee, and Polk Counties, pause of school grades release


Denise —

For immediate release

Contact: Bridget Ziegler



June 26, 2018

Tallahassee, Florida

After uncovering troubling signs of school grade inflation in multiple school districts, the Florida Coalition of School Board Members is calling on the state Department of Education to delay the release of A-F grades for middle schools in certain counties, including Duval, to allow time for a complete investigation of test results.

Several school districts made dramatic improvements in their passing rates on middle-school civics tests – a significant component in the state’s school grading formula. A closer look at the DOE’s data shows those districts also saw dramatic declines in the number of students who took the tests.

Duval County middle schools had a 66 percent civics pass-rate last year, which ranked 34 out of Florida’s 50 largest school districts. The district vaulted to no. 2 this year with an 84 percent passing rate.  But while 8,649 students were tested in civics in 2017, only 5,739 were tested in 2018.  That participation drop is likely the major source of the district’s gains. Similar patterns appear in Polk and Manatee Counties.

The shifts were most noticeable in schools that serve large numbers of low-income children of color. For example, at Duval’s Matthew Gilbert Middle, where 100% of the students are economically disadvantaged and 95% are students of color, the civics pass rate increased 48 percentage points, to 95 percent. That passing rate is in the top 10 percent of schools in the state, and higher than any in St. Johns, Nassau and Clay Counties. But only 44 students took the test this year, compared to 144 the previous year.

Matthew Gilbert is a persistently low-performing school – meaning it’s earned more than three consecutive letter grades of a D or lower. The extra 48 points it could receive due to its higher civics passing rate substantially increase its chances of receiving a C grade. That would bring tens of thousands of dollars in school recognition funding, political acclaim for district leaders, and reprieve from the state’s new Schools of Hope law. FSCBM did not find similar patterns of manipulation in Clay, St. Johns, or Nassau counties.

“A-F grades are designed to give parents clear, transparent measures of school performance,” said Duval County School Board member Scott Shine. “If schools game the system, they are essentially lying to parents about the performance of their children’s schools.”

“We passed Schools of Hope to eliminate failure factories in the state of Florida and ensure every child in this state has access to a world-class education,” said Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran. “We want to see schools make genuine improvements in teaching and learning. I am concerned some districts are inflating their results.”

The attached spreadsheet shows how some persistently low-performing middle schools benefit from fewer students taking their civics tests, how this drove apparent performance increases, and how pass rates and the number of tested students changed year-over-year in all the schools. It also shows that in the identified schools, a significantly lower percentage of students took the state civics tests than took the seventh-grade English test. Statewide, however, those percentages were nearly identical.

State civics testing data from 2018 are available here, and from 2017 are available here.


50 Largest Districts 2017 vs 2018 scores 

Top gains 2018

Duval Scores

Duval Year Over Year 

Manatee Year Over Year

Tampa Area Scores

Polk County Year Over Year

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