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- 2013 - December - 19th -

High schools to face tougher standards

By Brandon Larrabee, The News Service of Florida

High schools across the state will face tougher standards next year after more than three-quarters of them made one of the state's top two grades on report cards announced Wednesday.

In all, 78 percent of high school and "combination schools" received an A or a B in the 2012-13 school year, the state Department of Education said. The portion of high schools making the highest mark ticked up by one percentage point over 2011-12, to 48 percent, while 30 percent of schools made a B, slipping from 32 percent a year ago.

"With more high schools earning A's, it is clear that our teachers are succeeding in providing Florida students with a quality education," Gov. Rick Scott said in a news release announcing the numbers.

But the high grades will also spark tougher standards under a State Board of Education rule, adopted in 2011, that requires the standards to rise if 75 percent of any group of schools makes the two highest marks. State officials said Wednesday this marked the first time the new rule has been used.

For example, high schools will now have to score 70 percent of the points available on the state's grading system, up from 66 percent, to get an A. The standard will increase from 62 percent to 65 percent for a B, and there will be smaller increases in the scores necessary for C and D grades.

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart praised teachers and students for the progress.

At the same time, the state is continuing a policy aimed at preventing schools' scores from falling by more than one grade a year while schools phase in new state standards based on the Common Core initiative. Seven high schools were protected by that policy this year, education officials said.

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