Tampa, FL – At the State Board of Education meeting today, September 23, 2016, the board passed the new School Improvement Rating (SIR) accountability rule for alternative education schools and ESE centers. The board also agreed to hold harmless SIR assessed schools – delaying the implementation of a rule that would have withheld critical Capital Outlay funds. This decision impacts 300 schools classified as Alternative Education, including disciplinary alternative schools, dropout prevention, and credit recovery schools, that serve 25,000 students in Florida.
“I want to thank the State Board of Education for their decision not to withhold capital outlay funding from SIR accessed schools. I also want to thank Education Commissioner Pam Stewart, and Adam Miller and Office of Independent Education & Parental Choice for their continued assessment of the SIR rule and its impact on students,” said Lynn Norman-Teck, FCSA Executive Director, at the meeting.
Over the past year, the Florida Charter School Alliance (FCSA) has expressed concerns about the SIR rule change and funding proposal. Working on behalf of its member schools across the state, FCSA held several SIR workshops with key school district and charter school representatives to gather feedback from the field, released a position paper on the issue, and hosted an informational webinar that outlined the changes in the accountability formula and its impact on school grades – including the fact that nearly half (46%) of alternative education schools would receive “Unsatisfactory” or failing School Improvement Ratings for 2016. “We support a rigorous and relevant grading criteria, however, we need to make sure that rules don’t encumber or hurt alternative or special needs schools, or programs that serve high need communities,” explained Ralph Arza, Director of Governmental Affairs. “This upcoming legislative session, we will propose the use of various factors — including attendance and conduct, along with academic achievement — to measure student success at schools assessed by SIR.”
The Alliance plans to continue a collaborative dialog with the Florida Department of Education, legislators, and school districts about capital outlay eligibility, and finding a long-term solution of the SIR system and its modification in state statute.
Go to www.thefloridachannel.org to watch the September 23rd State Board of Education meeting.