Wisconsin could learn a thing or two from Florida’s school grading system

Alan Borsuk

I heard Jeb Bush give a talk a few months ago in Milwaukee about education policies that he promoted while he was governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007. I should have taken notes, because I think I was listening to at least a few of the pages from the playbook that will be used by Scott Walker when he becomes governor of Wisconsin in about five weeks.
I’m betting that is particularly true for the system of giving every school in the state a grade – A to F – each year. It’s a centerpiece of the “A+ Schools” program that Bush championed in Florida. He credits the grading system with being a key driver of rising test scores over the last decade.
In his campaign platform, Walker called for launching a grading system for Wisconsin schools. He hasn’t spelled out details, but Florida is the primary example of such a system, and Walker is an admirer of Bush. Walker also will have strong Republican majorities in both houses of the Legislature, and I can’t think of any reason he won’t succeed in turning what he said he would do into reality in the not-at-all-distant future.
So let’s look at Florida’s grading system on the assumption it is a lot like what will be used here.