TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/AP) — Governor Rick Scott has asked education, business, and political leaders to meet next week to discuss the state’s school grading system as controversy surrounds the issue.
Scott’s decision came just weeks after Education Commissioner Tony Bennett abruptly resigned amid a scandal about how grades were handed out to schools run by political donors in his last job.
It also follows weeks of debate over education standards and the state’s grading system.
The Republican governor wants a group of more than 30 people including legislators, school superintendents, school board officials, teachers and critics of new education standards to examine everything from high-stakes testing to the grading system itself.
Scott also wants the group to discuss new Common Core standards that kick in this year as well as teacher evaluations.
“Florida’s education accountability system has become a national model, but we are at a critical point in our history,” said Scott in a statement.
He has asked interim Education Commissioner Pam Stewart to convene the summit over a period of three days next week in Clearwater.
The governor’s action comes after the Aug. 1 resignation of Bennett. He resigned following allegations that he changed the grade of a charter school run by a major Republican donor during his previous job in Indiana.
But even before Bennett’s resignation there a rising controversy associated with the grading system that was first put in place under former Gov. Jeb Bush.
Bennett in July pushed for a “safety net” provision that helped more than 150 schools avoid getting an F grade. Bennett did it at the urging of school superintendents who complained that a long line of recent changes to the grading system would create a large drop in the grades.
The grades are based primarily on student performance on a series of high-stakes tests such as the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, but also other factors such as learning gains made by students.