Remember the first time Florida issued school grades? It was back in the late 1990s, and they came across as a novel way to quickly show whether a school was performing well or badly.
The state based the A-through-F marks on simple performance, and handed out money to schools that had top results. The concept was so unusual to some that one Sarasota school tried to hand its check back to the Cabinet, suggesting the money would be put to better use helping a low-performing school.
In the years since, the state has added learning gains to the formula. It has raised passing scores, implemented and removed bonus points, even set a “safety net” to protect schools from wild fluctuations amid constantly changing grading formulas.