School leaders across Florida are revving up publicity campaigns to counter an anticipated seismic downturn in school grades and student test scores as a result of higher benchmarks on the FCAT this spring.

The singular message: Lower school grades and scores are coming, but that does not necessarily mean students learned less. Simulations run by the state to apply the new passing scores to last year’s Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test results show the number of A and B schools plummeting statewide, and far more schools receiving a D or an F grade, including some in our areathat had never before received a failing grade.