FAQs for Emergency Order on Graduation, Grade Promotion and More

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On April 9, 2021, Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran released Emergency Order 2021-EO-02 which provides school districts with maximum flexibility on topics such as graduation for current seniors, student promotion and retention decisions, and Bright Futures awards. 

Volusia County Schools has prepared the following questions and answers to offer guidance to students and families regarding the implications of the emergency order.

Graduating Seniors

What criteria will be used to determine if a high school senior is eligible for graduation?

As a result of the Emergency Order, school districts are authorized to waive the state assessment requirement for graduation, which includes 10th grade ELA FSA and the algebra 1 end-of-course exam. Other graduation requirements such as the 18 or 24 credits as well as a minimum 2.0 GPA are still in place. It is important to note that the assessment waiver only pertains to those students expected to graduate in the spring of 2021. Students should contact their school counselor for any eligibility questions they may have.

What are the changes in eligibility for Bright Future Scholarships (Florida Academic Scholars and Florida Medallion Scholar, Florida Gold Seal Vocational Scholars Award, and Gold Seal CAPE Scholars Award)?

The Emergency Order has extended the deadline to earn a qualifying score until December 1, 2021. For students who are expected to graduate in the spring of 2021, Additionally, seniors are also provided flexibility for volunteer hours needed for Bright Futures applications. This flexibility is granted to seniors who were already working towards meeting the requirements but were unable to do so due to limited volunteer opportunities or health concerns. Students should contact their school counselor for any eligibility questions they may have.

Will graduating high school seniors be able to receive diploma designations if they are unable to take state assessments this year?

The district is also authorized to waive the required assessments for scholar designation. This is applicable for students who are expected to graduate in the spring of 2021. Students who have met all other criteria for Scholar and Merit designation, including earning a C or higher in the respective designation courses, but have been unable to take the state assessments, are still able to qualify for the designation. For example, many of this year's seniors would have taken U.S. History last year. Passing the U.S. History EOC was previously a Scholar designation requirement. However last year’s juniors did not have the opportunity to take that EOC due to testing cancellations; therefore it would be waived as a requirement for the diploma designation. Students should contact their school counselor for any eligibility questions they may have.

How will school grades be calculated?

Schools will not be given a school grade this year. However, schools do have the option to opt into receiving a school grade if they feel that it positively benefits the school. Once scores are released in late July, the district will have 30 days to review the data and apply to opt into a school grade if they choose. Schools must test a minimum of 90% of their eligible students to apply and schools that opt-in with 95% tested are presumptively approved. For a school that applies to opt-in, the state will review the data to ensure that assessment data fairly and accurately represents all students enrolled at that school. Schools that do not opt-in will retain their pre-COVID school grade, status or school improvement rating.

School Grades

How will school grades be calculated?

Schools will not be given a school grade this year. However, schools do have the option to opt into receiving a school grade if they feel that it positively benefits the school. Once scores are released in late July, the district will have 30 days to review the data and apply to opt into a school grade if they choose. Schools must test a minimum of 90% of their eligible students to apply and schools that opt-in with 95% tested are presumptively approved. For a school that applies to opt-in, the state will review the data to ensure that assessment data fairly and accurately represents all students enrolled at that school. Schools that do not opt-in will retain their pre-COVID school grade, status or school improvement rating.

Promotion and Retention

Will EOC grades still count as 30% of a student's overall grade for applicable courses?

The Emergency Order authorizes districts to waive the end-of-course exam calculation into the final grade. Typically, for those courses that require an end-of-course exam, that EOC score counts as 30% of the overall grade. This year, the final grades for EOC courses will be solely based on the four-quarter grade calculation. This waiver only applies to courses taken and successfully completed during the 2021 school year. The EOC courses are: Civics in 7th grade, Algebra 1, Geometry, Biology 1, U.S. History.

Will a 3rd grade student who was unable to take the Florida Standards Assessment in English Language Arts or scored a level 1 be promoted to 4th grade?

The Emergency Order authorizes the district to provide reliable evidence of a student’s performance or a good cause exemption from retention. Good cause exemption includes a qualifying score on the i-Ready diagnostic 3 at the end of May, curriculum portfolio points that are accumulated throughout the year, or other qualifying exemptions that are specific to English language learners or students with disabilities will remain in place.

This year, 3rd-grade students with a reading deficiency have the potential for summer programs in both June and July. Any 3rd-grade student who is demonstrating a severe reading deficiency and is trending towards the level 1 range, will be invited to a 3rd-grade reading camp in July. Volusia County Schools is offering a robust summer program. For 3rd grade students specifically, opportunities over the summer include face-to-face or virtual tutoring in June, as well as a face-to-face 3rd grade reading camp in July. In June, face-to-face tutoring will be offered at 10 school sites, and virtual tutoring will be available at all other sites.

Will VAM (Value Added Model) be used in the calculation of summative evaluations for instructional and administrative staff?

Volusia County Schools is exercising the flexibility afforded by the Emergency Order and will not calculate VAM as part of the summative evaluations for instructional or administrative staff this year. The Florida Department of Education will still calculate VAM scores for teachers in eligible courses. Teachers in eligible courses will still be awarded a single-year, two-year, and three-year aggregate score calculated by the Florida Department. VAM scores will likely continue to be used in transformation schools for hiring purposes as well as retention of quality teachers.

How does the Emergency Order impact students who are not seniors?

This Emergency Order supports and values assessment so that VCS has access to formative and summative data to inform priorities at the district, student placement, and student performance to ensure that the appropriate support services are in place. It is extremely important to note that the applicable end-of-course exams will continue to be a graduation requirement, as well as being used for diploma designations for non-seniors. Testing requirements are still in place for all other graduation cohorts.

Graduation Requirements for Class of 2022 and Beyond (Grades 9-11)

Cohort (Who does this apply to?)

These requirements apply to students who entered ninth grade in the 2018-2019 school year and beyond.

10th Grade FSA ELA

Concordant/Equivalent Scores: Qualifying scores on the SAT or ACT

Algebra 1 EOC

Concordant/Equivalent Scores: Qualifying scores on the PSAT/NMSQT, SAT, ACT, or Geometry EOC