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Web site will track state schools' progress

Education officials say the site will show parents how their children's schools rate under both state and federal systems.

Published June 3, 2004

ST. PETERSBURG - Odds are, parents will be befuddled again this month when they try to judge how their children's schools rate under separate state and federal systems.

But at least they won't be confused over how to find the information.

Florida Education Commissioner Jim Horne announced a new online report card Wednesday that will allow parents to see both assessments in the same spot, along with explanatory notes, phone numbers and information about school choice options.

The site also will feature gauges that correlate student improvement to school spending.

Parents need to be "more engaged and more involved," Horne told the St. Petersburg Times editorial board. "I think the first step toward that is to provide them more information."

The report cards will be posted on the department's Web site, They'll go up June 15 when, unlike last year, state and federal officials release assessments at the same time.

The state grades are based on FCAT scores. The federal assessment measures "adequate yearly progress," which is a key plank in the No Child Left Behind law.

Horne, an accountant by trade, came up with the gauge idea to measure "return on investment." The gauges also rank how schools compare to others in the district.

Besides posting the report cards online, the department plans to circulate them through hundreds of libraries, rec centers and community groups around the state. It decided against mailing the report cards because of cost, about $500,000 to reach the families of 2.6-million students, said spokeswoman Frances Marine.

One parent in South Tampa gave the report card a thumbs up, but wondered if more information couldn't be squeezed on to them. Caroline Shoebottom's oldest son just graduated from Robinson High School, which got a D last year but is drawing praise for its Aeronautics Academy.

"You never know what a school is like," Shoebottom said, "until you get into it."

[Last modified June 3, 2004, 01:00:36]

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