Education Week: Florida officials “perplexed and disappointed” with Fordham grade on science standards

From the February 8 Education Week:

Florida, although praised for its treatment of evolution, got a D for its standards, last updated in 2008. The report says the document “starts out well” in the primary grades, but in the upper grades “weakens into poor organization, ambiguous statements, and basic errors.”

A Florida official said she was “perplexed” and disappointed” by the grade. She said that one of the co-authors of the latest and earlier Fordham reports actually provided direct feedback to Florida on a draft of the 2008 standards, and that he provided a much more favorable assessment than the Fordham grade this time around.

“The rating is confusing to us,” said the state official, Mary Jane Tappen, a deputy chancellor at the Florida Department of Education, who said the state went through a rigorous process involving a variety of experts to help develop its standards.

In any case, Ms. Tappen said, the state would take another look at the document. “Certainly, if we have any errors or content that leads to misconception, we need to make those corrections immediately,” she said.

Ms. Porter-Magee said that the report and its grades reflect the work of five science experts, and that the think tank stands by its Florida analysis. At the same time, she said she sympathized with the concerns of Florida officials, adding that “Florida has been working hard to improve the quality of its standards.”

Ms. Porter-Magee cautioned that each state’s grade does not tell the whole story for its science standards, because it may have received higher or lower marks in particular domains of science.

“If a state got a C overall, it doesn’t mean it got a C in all areas,” she said. “For example, high school physics and chemistry was almost across the board among the weakest” domains in states’ science standards.

Thanks to FCR-STEM’s Chris Johnson for circulating this.

Memo to Mary Jane:  Blame me.

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