State Would Impose Tougher Rules on Double F Schools

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State education officials are cracking down on failing schools. The Florida Board of Education voted Tuesday to impose tough new requirements on schools getting an F for the second year in a row.

But educators worry a one-size-fits-all approach might not work for schools and students who need help the most.

Failing schools are already required to follow strict action plans to bring up students’ test scores. Now the state also wants proof those plans are working, but Mary Ellen Elia, the Hillsborough County school superintendent, says it’s not that easy.

“We ended up with more students than we were able to anticipate

Mary Ellen Elia was one of four superintendents called on the carpet by the state Board of Education to explain what she’s doing to keep her schools from getting an F two years in a row.

She listed off the challenges and a long list of improvements, but she says she also needs the state to be patient.

“That’s it, you have to have time. Students all do things at their own pace, you need to figure out what they need and provide that for them.”

New requirements include better monitoring of students’ progress at double F schools to show the school is getting better.

But the state may not be willing to wait as long as it takes for schools to improve. Lawmakers are considering giving the governor the power to declare an educational state of emergency and take over the school.

The get-tough approach isn’t sitting well with educators like Wayne Blanton of the Florida School Boards Association.

“For the governor or the Legislature to always say that this is a one-size-fits-all solution usually does not work, and it takes a cooperative effort.”

There is a lot at stake. Seventy eight Florida schools received an F last year.