OPPAGA text logo with graphic of FL historic capitol
OPPAGA text logo with graphic of FL historic capitol

Education System

School Improvement, Assessment, and Accountability

What is the purpose of school improvement, assessment, and accountability?

The purpose of school improvement, assessment, and accountability is to improve student performance. State assessments of student academic knowledge are central to Florida's school improvement and accountability system.

What is the state's role in school improvement, assessment, and accountability?

Under the state's school improvement and accountability system and the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the state's role is to develop standards and hold school districts and schools accountable for improving student performance.

What are the roles and responsibilities of various local-level stakeholders in the school improvement process?

Florida law establishes the role of school advisory councils and school boards in the school improvement process. School advisory councils assist teachers and school administrators in preparing and evaluating annual school improvement plans. Among other statutory responsibilities, local school boards must annually approve and require implementation of school improvement plans for each school in the district, along with providing funds to the schools for the development and implementation of the improvement plans.

How is student performance measured?

To support its school improvement and accountability efforts, Florida assesses student performance on a statewide basis using a number of standardized and end-of-course (EOC) assessments. The Florida Standards Assessments (FSA) is a state student achievement test that specifically addresses a student's ability to perform on the Florida Standards benchmarks. The statewide assessment program includes assessments of English Language Arts in grades 3-10, mathematics in grades 3-8, and science in grades 5 and 8. The state also administers end-of-course exams in Algebra 1, Geometry, Biology 1, Civics, and U.S. History.

The Florida Department of Education publishes the graduation requirements to earn a standard high school diploma in Florida. The requirements include a student passing the 10th grade English Language Arts exam (or achieving a concordant score on the ACT or SAT) and the Algebra 1 EOC exam (or a comparative score on the Postsecondary Education Readiness Test for students who entered high school between 2010-11 and 2017-18). Students must participate in EOC exams that constitute 30% of the student's final course grade in Algebra 1, Geometry, Biology 1 and U.S. History.

Section 1002.69, Florida Statutes, also requires each school district to administer the statewide kindergarten screening, the Florida Kindergarten Readiness Screener (FLKRS). The FLKRS assesses the readiness of each student for kindergarten based on performance standards adopted by the Department of Education, and is administered to each kindergarten student within the first 30 days of each school year. The state administers an online, adaptive instrument called the Star Early Literacy as its FLKRS assessment. 

In addition, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which is directed and coordinated at the national level, is administered to a sample of Florida students. The NAEP measures student knowledge of core subjects such as civics, geography, mathematics, reading, U.S. history, and writing.

How is the performance of individual schools assessed?

Florida grades schools on an A through F scale. The school grading formula uses measures of student success that include achievement in English Language Arts, mathematics, science, and social studies; learning gains; middle school acceleration; graduation rate; and earning college credit or industry certifications through high school acceleration. In addition, the performance of specific subgroups, such as racial/ethnic groups and economically disadvantaged, are assessed and reported annually. Grades are based on the percentage of total points earned. The State Board of Education adopts by rule a school grading scale that sets the percentage of points needed to earn each grade and must adjust the scale upward if necessary to meet raised expectations and encourage increased student performance.
More information about school grades for 2018-19 is available on the Department of Education's website.

Are there rewards and/or consequences for schools that perform well or poorly?

Florida's School Recognition Program recognizes eligible schools that improve their grade or sustain high performance with a school grade of A with financial recognition awards. Low-performing schools are provided intervention and support to improve student academic performance. In addition, s. 1002.38, Florida Statutes, provides students with educational choices with Florida's Opportunity Scholarship Program.  The program allows parents to send their child to another, higher performing public school if the school they attend or will attend received a grade of F or three consecutive grades of D.

What are the school improvement options for low-performing schools?

The State Board of Education is charged with enforcing the state's school accountability requirements, including holding school districts accountable for the academic performance of all schools and students, pursuant to s. 1008.33, Florida Statutes. The Department of Education annually identifies public schools that earned a grade D or F and are in need of intervention and support to improve academic performance. These schools must initiate improvement activities, which are delineated in a differentiated matrix adopted by state board rule. The state board may also prescribe reporting requirements to review and monitor the progress of the schools.
Schools earning a grade of F or two consecutive grades of D must submit a district-managed turnaround plan for approval by the state board. If a school continues to perform poorly, earning three consecutive grades below a C, the district is required to implement one of the following turnaround options:
  • reassign students to another school and monitor the progress of each reassigned student;
  • close the school and reopen the school as one or more charter schools, each with a governing board that has a demonstrated record of effectiveness; or
  • contract with an outside entity that has a demonstrated record of effectiveness to operate the school; the outside entity may include a district-managed charter school in which all instructional personnel are not employees of the school district but are employees of an independent governing board.

What is the Schools of Excellence Program?

The Schools of Excellence Program provides administrative flexibilities to the state's highest performing schools. The State Board of Education is required to designate a school as a School of Excellence if the school's percentage of possible points earned in its school grades calculation is in the 80th percentile or higher for schools comprised of the same grade groupings (including elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and schools with a combination of grade levels) for at least two of the last three school years.
Schools that receive the Schools of Excellence designation are provided administrative flexibility in five areas:
  • exemption from any law or rule that requires a minimum period of daily or weekly reading instruction;
  • principal autonomy as provided under the Principal Autonomy Pilot Program Initiative;
  • for instructional personnel, the substitution of one school year of employment at a School of Excellence for 20 inservice points toward the renewal of a professional certificate, up to 60 inservice points in a 5-year cycle;
  • exemption from compliance with district policies or procedures that establish times for the start and completion of the school day; and
  • calculation of compliance with the maximum class size requirements based on the average number of students at the school level.

Updates

Cancellation of 2020 Assessments.  On March 9, 2020, Governor DeSantis issued an executive order that declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. This executive order authorized the Department of Emergency Management to issue an emergency order, which directed the Department of Education to waive the statewide assessments program. As a result, all requirements for graduation and promotion and final course grades will be evaluated as though those assessments did not exist.  In addition, school grades will not be calculated for the 2019-20 school year, and schools in turnaround may continue their current status.   

Adoption of New Student Performance Standards. The State Board of Education adopted the Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking (B.E.S.T.) standards, which encompasses new English language arts (ELA) and Mathematics standards for grades K-12.  The Board adopted a three-year implementation timeline to include professional development for teachers to support implementation of the new standards, the adoption of instructional materials, curriculum implementation, and new statewide assessments aligned to the new standards. The B.E.S.T. standards will be fully implemented in Florida classrooms by the 2022-23 school year. 

Modification of High School Grade Calculation.  The 2020 Legislature enacted Chapter 2020-74Laws of Florida,which modifies the high school acceleration component of the school grade calculation.  The bill allows schools to include career dual enrollment courses resulting in the completion of 300 or more clock hours in the college and career component of the school grade calculation.

Where can I find related OPPAGA reports?

Successful Interventions and Support Strategies at Turnaround Schools and District MOUs with Collective Bargaining Units, January 23, 2019.
A complete list of related OPPAGA reports is available on our website.

Where can I get more information?

What are the applicable statutes?

Sections 1000.03, 1001.11, 1001.452, 1001.42, 1002.69, and Ch.1008, Florida Statutes.

Whom do I contact for help?

Accountability & Reporting, 850-245-0437

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