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Grade Change Proposal Would Make More ‘F’ Schools

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MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – A proposal which would change the way schools are graded and increase the number of ‘F’ schools in the state dramatically if implemented will be considered Tuesday by the Board of Education.

Under the change, schools where less than 25 percent of students score proficient in reading on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test would automatically be given an ‘F.’

“It’s just unfair.  It doesn’t make sense, it’s unjustified and I think we have an issue with the fact that this has been attempted to be done in sort of a cloak of darkness without stakeholder input, that’s not how democratic systems work,” Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho told a gathering at Miami’s Versailles Restaurant.

Carvalho said the change in the rule midway through the school year would mean students of immigrants who have only spoken English for a year or less would have to test at the same level as those who speak English as their native language.  It would also require students with disabilities to test on the same level.  He said if it goes into effect, it will be a real game changer.

“Across the state, the number of ‘F’ schools would grow from about 30 to over 300 overnight,” said Carvalho.

Carvalho has organized community leaders and school board members to oppose the measure.  Some of them will be join him in a trip to Tallahassee on Tuesday where they will testify before the Board of Education and ask for concession.

“Do you think it’s possible that a student that comes from Haiti can be proficient in English after only one year,” CBS4’s Tiffani Helberg asked Hatian Rights Advocate Marleine Bastien.

“It is impossible,” said Bastien. “It is impossible because research has shown it takes students at least seven years or more.”

Rosa Maria Barbara is on an advisory panel for students with disabilities.  She says the new rules are hurtful to some of South Florida’s most vulnerable students.

“It will further stigmatize our students with disabilities or severe disabilities as not desirable in a regular classroom,” said Barbara.

The proposal comes in light of the waiver Florida received from the No Child Left Behind law and changes made to the FCAT.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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