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Florida’s School Grading System Remains Flawed, Parent Says

My son went to a school that received an “A” grade from the state of Florida. During fifth grade, his last year as a public school student, his standardized test score significantly dropped. From here he went on to a private school that does not put such an emphasis on a single test.

Instead, the private institution teaches the whole child. They teach reading across all curricular areas, thereby strengthening a child’s reading comprehension ability and nurturing the importance of reading. The same is done with all other subject areas. They are weaved in to the whole program. After a year in this private school my son’s standardized test scores ballooned to way above his grade level.

I think of my son’s experience whenever I hear about the grades assigned to schools in Florida. A school's grade means little. An educator in a low-performing school likely works as hard or harder than a teacher in a top-performing school.

It is important to note that teachers at my son’s private school are not certified to teach education. They are certified to teach the subject they dominate and love. A math teacher is certified in a specific math domain, like algebra. If you would like to improve student scores, begin by having teachers specialize in a specific subject.

I am both an educator and a parent. Teaching is an art. You are born a teacher. It is very difficult to teach someone how to teach. However, we still need teachers, so let’s make them the best at their subject, so that they truly dominate that area.

In order to fix this problem, we need to focus on our teachers and their process of certification. In the past we would blame class size. Today public school class size is terrific. Yet, our students continue to lag in academic achievement. We need to have teachers get certified in their area of expertise beginning by third grade. We also need to begin electing officials that have their own children in public schools. It is wrong to decide what goes on in public schools when your own children are attending private schools.

Our community is not really aware of what goes on in public schools. They think that a school’s letter grade sums up the entire school. There is more to a school than that. We need to get everyone involved in making our schools the best in the nation. We have the resources – we just need commitment. Our community is very generous when it comes to paying taxes for education. Improving teacher quality and training is.

Carolina Garcia, mother of two, has taught at a public school for 25 years. She lives in Miami and continues to have “a passion for teaching.”

This post came from a member of the Public Insight Network, an online community of people who have agreed to share their opinions with The Miami Herald and WLRN. Become a news source for WLRN by going to WLRN.org/Insight.

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