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What is Your Level 4 EOC Score Worth? It Depends on Which County You Live In…

ACCOUNTABALONEY ALERT: How your child’s state mandated End of Course (EOC) exam score is translated to their final course grade depends on which county you live in. Yep… it is accountabaloney.

Florida Statute (f.s. 1008.22(3)(b)4) requires that students enrolled in U.S. History, Civics, Biology, Algebra 1 and Geometry must take a state created End of Course exam (the Algebra 2 EOC was eliminated by HB7069 as of 7/1/17). Because the mandated EOC is required to be worth 30% of the student’s course grade, performance on these 5 exams can have a significant impact on a student’s overall Grade Point Average (GPA).

High school GPA is considered to be the best predictor of future success in college and, thus, is looked at very carefully during the college admissions process. In addition to college admissions, student GPA can be the determining factor in Bright Futures Scholarships and class rank. Students must maintain a minimal GPA to be allowed to participate in athletics and other extra-curricular activities. The impact of the state mandated EOC scores on student GPA places Florida’s public school students at a distinct disadvantage when compared to private school and out-of-state students, who are not required to sit for such exams.

Given the high stakes attached to the state EOCs, we were surprised to find that the conversion of the EOC score to the student’s course grade is anything but uniform. Students with the exact same score on the EOC may find the impact on their final course grade dramatically different, depending on what county they live in.  We asked Directors of Assessment and Accountability, from across the state, to explain how EOC scores were converted into 30% of the student’s final grade. We got many different answers. By and large, we were told the FLDOE had provided NO guidance on this issue. Here is what we found:

Miami-Dade spells it out completely. Everyone is assigned either an A, B or D on their EOC and their final course grade is dependent on the student’s grade going into the EOC. If a student goes into the EOC with a class grade of an “A” or “B” and fails the EOC, they will see their final course grade drop. There is no way for a student with a “B” going into the EOC to raise their grade to an “A”, regardless of their performance on the EOC. If a student goes into the EOC with a class grade of “C”, “D” or “F”, their final grade will improve (if they pass the EOC) or remain the same.  It seems like overly complicated accountabaloney to us:

In Broward, a 4 or 5 is an A, a 3 is a B, a 2 is a C, and a 1 is a D. “They just assign a letter grade, not a percent, and it gets averaged in as 30% of the final grade. Each of the four quarters count as 15% of the final grade and the midterm counts as 10% of the final grade.”

Several counties assign a specific percentage to each level score (the exam results are reported as a Level Score from 1-5, with 5 being the highest):

  • Orange: L5 = 95, L4=85, L3=75, L2=65 & L1=59. (Yes, if a students gets a perfect score, their exam grade is a 95.)
  • Escambia: L5 = 95, L4=85, L3=75, L2=65 & L1=59
  • Lee: L5 = 99, L4 = 89, L3 = 79, L2 = 69, L1 = 59
  • Monroe: L5 = 100, L4=95, L3=89, L2=59 & L1=55
  • Polk: L5 = 100, L4=89, L3=79, L2=69 & L1=59

Hernando County determines grade based on the scaled score (not the level score):

Manatee County, also, bases their scores on the students scaled score but uses a slightly different scale (Algebra 2 was calculated with the same system used for Algebra 1 and Geometry):

 

Leon County wins for “Most Creative.” They use “quality points” to convert letter grades to numerical figures that they then total to determine GPA:

It is clear that students from different counties could have identical performance in the classroom and identical EOC scores, yet have varying GPA’s. In other words: in some districts the stakes are even higher for these EOC exams. When students are competing statewide for college admissions, Bright Futures scholarships or any other scholarship, we shouldn’t have such a discrepancy.

This is high stakes testing accountabaloney at its finest and is not fair to Florida’s public school students.

16 Comments

  1. Erin Pike

    Not only do I find this INFURIATING, I am mad at the scale too! If a Level 3 or higher is proficient, then a Level 3 and higher should translate to a high B and Up. More like level 5-100, level 4-90 and level 3-85.

    Most importantly, it should be the same across the state!

    1. Sarab

      C is initial mastery therefore a 3. B shows mastery of the standards therefore the 4, and 5 shows advanced mastery of these standards hence the 5. Proficient is a C. A C means that they are proficient– a 4/b or a 5/a shows more than proficient. Why should meeting the minimum in be a B- that is equivalent to giving someone an A just because they did all their work, whether or not they understood it.

    2. .

      Yup!! Been dealing with this too! Not sure why the FLDOE won’t fix this!!! A student can have an A+ in class, take a State test that can be flawed, & wind up with a B for the final course grade!

  2. Jacque

    It seems from the comments above that a confusion persists between what a 3 represents and what a 3 is perceived to mean. 3 is passing and means that a student will likely need support to be successful in the next grade. Is that not equivalent to a D or C? But with so many students in the range, it would be outrageous to count it as so. Our language and actions do not match. It equates to none of it having any real meaning for learning other than what is politically advantageous.

  3. Jana

    Is the Department of Education finally going to right thing & re-score all the final grades if they were negatively impacted by the EOC, irregardless of when the test was taken?

    1. Sue Kingery Woltanski

      They are leaving that decision up to the districts…

      1. .

        What does that really mean?? The Districts CAN change it if they want? It seems the FLDOE keeps saying it is being left up to the Districts, but Districts use the argument that since the elimination for the test was on July 1, 2017, only 2017 students can benefit since they are complying with the “Law” (change in the elimination of the test).
        Another argument being used is that all the other students prior to 2017 had the opportunity to retake the test to improve their grade. However, what most people do not know is THE TEST CAN BE RETAKEN SEVERAL TIMES PRIOR TO GRADUATION TO IMPROVE YOUR SCORE….so what happens to all of these students?? Quite unfair to a bunch of the students that got stuck with this test! Who is your contact at FLDOE?

        1. Catrina

          Just for clarification, can school districts choose whether or not to count the Algebra 2 EOC scores for 30% of a student’s final grade for 2017? If so, is there documentation to support this?
          Thank you !

  4. Catrina

    In Levy County, my child scored a 4, which was converted to an 84 and changed his two low A’s to two B’s. Someone else scored a 3, which was converted to an 80, had high enough A’s that they still have two A’s.

    I did the math (an amazing feat for someone who never had to take the FCAT, FSA or EOC) for Levy County, a student could have a 93 each nine weeks, fail the EOC (converted to a 50), and still have two B’s….they can’t graduate, but they would have two A’s.

    He would have two A’s in Manatee, Lee, Monroe, Polk, Dade, Clay and Broward.

    To top it off, only 3% of Levy County students scored a 5.

    I contacted the FL DOE, and they state that it is up to the districts and that it can’t be weighted for more than 30% of a grade. Obviously, depending on how a district computes grades, it is weighted differently among the districts.

    I think if he failed the EOC, he could retake it for a higher grade. I don’t think he can retake it because he scored a 4….
    Ugh!

    1. .

      The scores for these tests are all slightly different depending on the district you live in! Very unfair to the students!

    2. .

      YOU CAN RETAKE THIS TEST SEVERAL TIMES TO IMPROVE YOUR SCORE PRIOR TO GRADUATION! Now, why isn’t the FLDOE coming up with another option for these students that WANT to improve their scores since the elimination on July 1, 2017. This should come from the FLDOE, not leave it up to the Districts! Every student should have a re-score like some of the students benefited from in some of the Florida Districts.

      1. Catrina

        In my district, you can only retake the test if you score a 1 or 2. In my son’s case, his Level 4 was converted to an 84%, which dropped his 91% semester grades to B’s. He can not retake the EOC for a higher grade. He happened to be in 8th grade, so I asked if he could retake the class with complete grade forgiveness. He can’t because he didn’t earn a D or F. Now, he shouldn’t really have to retake the EOC or class to try to get an A; however, a student that had a 91% for each semester and failed the EOC could retake the EOC, receive a higher score, and possibly keep their A’s.

        What stinks is in at least 37 school districts, he would have A’s for final semester grades. If at least 84.4% of Florida’s students scored the same, they would have A’s for final grades. My son has the pleasure of competing with them when applying to college.

  5. Catrina

    Here is an email that I sent to every School Board Superintendent and Testing Coordinator (if I could find on district website):

    Dear Superintendents and Assessment Coordinators,

    After my son’s A semester grades (91 each semester) were decreased to B’s after receiving a Level 4 (524 converted to 84%) on the Algebra 1 EOC in spring 2017, I contacted School Board offices around the state to gather information on how EOC scores are converted to be calculated into the state-mandated 30% of a student’s final grade for Algebra 1.

    I contacted 55 school districts of which 43 replied. Of Florida’s students taking the Algebra 1 EOC for the first time in spring 2017 and compared to a statistically identical student in each district, I found that my son would retain his A’s in 37 districts representing 167,028 of 197,871, or 84.4% of students. These districts include: Alachua, Bay, Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Clay, Collier, Columbia, Dade, Duval, Flagler, Holmes, Indian River, Jackson, Lake, Lee, Leon, Manatee, Marion, Martin, Monroe, Okaloosa, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, St. Lucie, Santa Rosa, Sarasota, Seminole, Suwannee, Taylor, Union and Volusia.

    My son’s A’s would decrease to B’s in 3 districts representing 5,994 or 3% of students. These districts include: Escambia, Levy and St. John’s.

    3 districts were inconclusive representing 16,344 or 8.3% of students. These districts include: Baker, Hernando and Hillsborough. Hillsborough has different scales for different populations of students. Hernando uses a Theta score that I did not have access to when I called.

    I left messages in Bradford, Calhoun, Citrus, Dixie, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Gulf, Hamilton, Nassau, Wakulla, Walton and Washington districts.

    I did not contact every district, and I do apologize for that. This process was time consuming; however, I do feel that my findings are significant.

    There are at least 18 different methods of converting EOC scores. I realize that the Florida Department of Education does not provide guidance on how to convert these scores. I truly believe that EVERY district feels their method is the fairest and the best; however, the disparity of the conversion methods puts some students at a distinct disadvantage when applying to college, qualifying for Bright Futures or any other scholarship, qualifying to take Dual Enrollment in high school, retaining sports eligibility and/or graduating.

    A summary of methods is attached. Please excuse if the whole scale is not listed. Some districts told me what my son would have in their district, some explained their entire scale, and my questioning improved throughout the process. (See attachment EOC County Conversion Methods)

    I have contacted the Florida Department of Education twice to inform of this disparity; however, their only reply was a link to the statute and that I needed to contact my school district.
    Excerpt from my second email FL DOE:
    I am re-informing you that I have contacted 43 school districts and have been informed of at least 17 different methods that districts convert EOC scores.

    I am re-informing you that a student that received a 524, or Level 4, on the Algebra 1 EOC could be converted to: 84%, 89%, 90%. 95%, 100%, 3.0 QP or 4.0 QP. Just because of where they live in Florida.

    I am re-informing you that a student that received a Level 3 on the Algebra 1 EOC could be converted to: 70%, 79%, 80%, 85%, 100%, 2.0 QP, or 3.0 QP. Just because of where they live in Florida.

    I am re-informing you that a student that received a Level 1 on the Algebra 1 EOC could be converted to: 16%, 50%, 59%, 60%, 65%, 1.0 QP or 2.0 QP. Just because of where they live in Florida.

    Some districts override any grade changes that the EOC may have on a student’s final grade. Is that 30%? Some districts ask the teacher if the EOC test score is indicative of the student’s ability, and override the EOC. Is that 30%? (It’s not, but it certainly is logical.)

    If a district converted every EOC score (Level 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5) to a 100% for 30% of a student’s final grade, would the Florida Department of Education have any feedback on that? Per the statute and your reply, it’s the district’s prerogative, and that would be fine.

    I have contacted various legislators.

    Potential dollar value of disparity because of lower GPA:
    Loss of Bright Futures = $24,000 (100%)
    Loss of other scholarships = ?
    Loss of Dual Enrollment eligibility due to lower GPA = up to $12,000
    Decreased district/school grade due to lack of accelerated students = ?
    Loss of sports eligibility/recruitment of athlete = ?
    Decreased graduation rate = ?
    Not accepted to college = ?
    Difference in average early career starting salary for FAU (FAU is a wonderful school, just used for illustration) graduate vs. Georgetown graduate = $26,300 per year (www.payscale.com) x 5 years = $131,500

    Here’s a potential FSA/EOC question:
    True or False:
    If two Floridian students both had 91’s each semester of Algebra 1 (70% of a final grade), both scored a 524 on the Algebra 1 EOC, and the state of Florida mandates that the EOC score counts for 30% of every student’s final grade, they both would have the same final grade. Tough question….Answer: FALSE!!!

    I am hoping that with increased awareness, a positive change can be made for ALL of Florida’s students. Shouldn’t all districts want their students to be on an even playing field with other students? Shouldn’t statistically identical students have identical high school transcripts? After all, no child should be left behind.

    While I realize that every district believes that their method is the best or fairest, in the big picture and compared to other methods used in Florida, is it?

    Thank you for your time! If you have any feedback, please email me.
    Let’s make 30% equal 30%!
    Catrina Sistrunk

    P.S. The Algebra 2 EOC Debacle
    I have just come to realize that a student that scored low on the Algebra 2 EOC in spring 2017 ( a test so horrible it doesn’t exist anymore), had his final grade decreased, which led to his GPA dropping, which made him ineligible for Dual Enrollment. Not only did this diminish the student’s self esteem, but if the child did not register for AP or certification classes, it would decrease our school and district score because of a lower number of accelerated students.

    I applaud the Florida Department of Education for getting rid of the Algebra 2 EOC, but it did not tell districts what to do with the scores for the spring….or really anytime the test existed. There will be cohorts with the Algebra 2 EOC included in their final grade and some without. Most likely, the ones without the EOC grade included in 30% of their final grade will have an advantage

  6. Catrina

    This was the FL DOE’s response to me:

    ” Your thoughts are important to us, and I understand your concerns regarding the calculation of students’ final course grades with an EOC exam. However, the changes you wish to see would need to come from state legislature. Because our office does not introduce legislative changes, I suggest bringing your concerns to your state legislators. The following links, also provided in my previous message, will allow you to find the state representative and state senator for your district.
    To find your state representative, please visit this address: http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/myrepresentative.aspx.
    To find your state senator, please visit this address: http://www.flsenate.gov/senators/find

    I contacted my State Representative, State Senator, members of the Senate Education Committee, various members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, etc. I would recommend that everyone following this blog to do the same.

    To try to get my son’s grades changed, I had to file a grievance. So far the defense given is, “We feel that our method fairly and equitably applies the intent of Florida Statute 1003.4282.” My district picked the 1 method out of 18 that I found that results in my child receiving a B, and I wonder how is fair and equitable!

    So, my district’s response is we’ve done the best we can given the statute and no guidance from FL DOE. The DOE’s response is that they can’t do anything and to contact a legislator.

    1. .

      Who was your contact at FLDOE? Are you going through your local senator to get a bill passed? I’m still wondering what they are going to do with all the students that could retake the Algebra 2 EOC to improve their score up until graduation, per the SPP that was followed when the test was taken. If the test was eliminated, and is not a requirement, then the EOC test grade should be eliminated before graduation. If the district doesn’t want to use the changed statue for everyone, then the test takers should be following the SPP when the test was taken?? One of these SPPs has to be used; the old one that allows several retakes or the new one that eliminates the test (therefore, eliminate the prior score). What about grade forgiveness that’s available to students – would it apply to this situation?

      1. Catrina Sistrunk

        I used links on the FLDOE website for Commissioner Stewart, but Joe Cirio responded to all of my emails. I’m not sure if Commissioner Stewart ever saw my emails.

        I emailed so many legislators that I lost count. I’m really not sure what else to do.

        I started the grievance process at my school trying to get my son’s (and any student negatively affected by the district’s EOC conversion process) grades changed. So far, the response is that they feel their process is fair and equitable. I will file an appeal.

        If you know of another route, please let me know.

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