As expected, Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart has recommended cut scores and passing rates for the FSA exams in English and math that are very close to those recommended by the Educator and Reactor panels (see the School Zone report here and the FLDOE media release here). Her recommendations now position her in conflict with several members of the State Board of Education and Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education, who want higher cut scores and therefore passing rates more in line with the proficiency rates on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP; see graph above).
In justifying her recommendations, Commissioner Stewart cited the work of three panels – the Achievement Level Descriptions panel that sets expectations for how well students at different achievement levels should perform generally, the Educator Panel that applies the Achievement Level Descriptions to the exams given last spring and comes up with cut score recommendations, and the Reactor Panel composed of state leaders who essentially comment on the Educator Panel results. Both the Achievement Level Descriptions panel and the Educator Panel are composed of Florida teachers who, along with their colleagues, are evaluated partly on the basis of the exam results.
The State Board of Education has final say on setting cut scores, and the Vice Chair of the board has made clear his desire to toughen the grading of the exam. The State Board will vote on cut scores at its January meeting.