Florida’s System of School Improvement and Accountability: A Brief Summary
The 1991 Florida Legislature committed itself and the State of Florida to long-term systemic change in education. The legislation called for the development of Florida’s System of School Improvement and Accountability based on the state’s education goals. The intent of the legislation is to return the responsibility for education to those closest to the students – the schools, teachers, and parents. In addition, the federal No Child Left Behind Act requires schools in every state to demonstrate that all students are achieving academic proficiency (See AYP link).
In addition to the state education goals, the statute established School Advisory Councils at each of the state’s public schools. The councils must be representative of each school’s community and must include parents, teachers, administrators, business people, and other community members. High school, vocational-technical and adult education center School Advisory Councils must include students; elementary and middle schools may include students. A majority of the members of each School Advisory Council must be persons who are not employed at the school. These councils play an integral part in implementing Florida’s System of School Improvement and Accountability at the school level.
The Data-Driven Process
School Advisory Councils assist in developing School Improvement Plans based on needs assessments that address the school’s status in relation to the state’s goals and the Adequate Yearly Progress indicators. These plans, using the state’s template, are submitted to the school board for approval. The state’s role is to set standards and measure results, while the process used to achieve those results is a local decision. Student performance is the primary focus. The standards in this area are based upon the United States Secretary of Labor’s SCANS (Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills) Report, which detailed what students need to know and be able to do to ensure our nation’s success in a global economy.
Public reporting is an essential component of Florida’s System of School Improvement and Accountability. The School Public Accountability Report (SPAR), contains a brief summary of the school’s results on indicators related to the state’s goals, progress on the School Improvement Plan, and limited financial information. Information regarding the school’s status in meeting Adequate Yearly Progress is also made available. A second report, the end of year Report of Progress Toward Improvement is presented to the school board indicating the school’s success in meeting the goals of the School Improvement Plan.
In an attempt to report results rather than processes, and to focus on what Florida students know and are able to do, the Department of Education developed the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). This assessment includes both traditional multiple-choice items, as well as items that require students to construct their responses. The FCAT Writing assessment is also performance based and measures writing levels from student writing samples. Schools are accountable for the performance of their students and the improvement of instructional programs to ensure that students meet high standards.
Florida’s approach to school reform allows flexibility, encourages change, sets high standards, and holds schools accountable for results–improved student performance.
You may view a school’s SPAR report by clicking on “School Info” on the sidebar menu of the district’s webpage.