Children are stressed out and parents are m ad enough to want their children to “Opt-Out” of all high-stakes testing. Frustrated teachers are leaving the profession and superintendents are demanding real change. Lawmakers: how about some real relief?
Florida schools are about to hit the big testing/school grades accountability iceberg this spring. Why? This year, instead of FCAT, all 3rd-11th grade students will be taking brand new tests on the extremely challenging Florida Standards Assessment (FSA), aka, Common Core Standards. Third graders who don’t score well on reading will be retained and high school students who don’t pass will not graduate. Schools will receive A-F school grades based on these scores.
Not to worry—districts have been assured by DOE that the scores will be “normed” (manipulated) to match last year’s scores. Somehow, that gives little comfort
Here’s a sample 3rd grade math problem— A bakery uses 48 pounds of flour each day. It orders flour every 28 days. Create an equation that shows how many pounds of flour the bakery
needs to order every 28 days.
Any wonder many parents are having trouble helping their children with homework?
There are now 154 of the 180 days on the Florida State Testing Calendar devoted to a variety of required state assessments in grades K-12 that effect schools’ grades. Any wonder that schools are spending more and more time prepping and practicing for these tests?
Some in the Florida Legislature claim that school districts are at fault for so much testing. I find it incredible that the very folks who built the iceberg are seeking to blame the looming shipwreck on the victims.
To make matters worse, schools also have to implement Florida Statute 1012.34– requiring 50% of a teacher’s evaluation be based on “rigorous” tests for every subject/course taught. So, at great expense, school districts have been scrambling to create over 1200 tests on courses not covered by the required Florida Standards Assessments, FSA. These district assessments must cover quite the spectrum including art, physical ed., drama and guidance counselors. By law, elementary students must take 6-7 end-of-course tests to prove their teachers did a good enough job to be eligible for a performance bonus.
The Legislature should deep-six the teacher performance pay law, NOW, and let principals do their jobs. What if FSU’s President Thrasher called the plays and picked the players from the sky-box instead of Jimbo Fisher on the field?
The fans would never stand for it. Neither should we.
Those closest to the action (principals) should pick their team (teachers), evaluate their contributions and be held accountable for their performance by Superintendents. No federal or state interference (or high paid testing companies) needed—please.
The Florida Senate recently asked for a full accounting of how much testing is going on in Florida’s public schools. (Didn’t they know?) It reminds me of Captain Renault’s line in Casablanca, “Rick, I’m shocked, shocked that there’s gambling going on in this place.”
Jeb Bush’s Foundation of “‘Excellence” now wants “fewer better” tests while maintaining the same basic framework of school grades and teacher performance pay. These are the very “reforms” that have disrupted meaningful teaching and learning under the guise of accountability. Placating the parents without drastic changes to the high-stakes accountability system is merely rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic. The iceberg cometh!
Seriously, if we want our public schools to be beehives of joy and learning, where teachers support each other to make sure that every student is challenged and honored, we need drastic changes in our laws and accountability system.
Meanwhile, the Legislature should at least listen to the state superintendents. As Escambia Superintendent Malcolm Thomas said, “The state of Florida is over-testing our students and it is too soon to use the new Florida Standards Assessment as an accountability tool. The state needs to use common sense and not use an assessment system that has so many unknown aspects in a way that could hurt our students, our teachers, or our schools.”
Amen and pass the biscuits.
Same article (shortened) published on 2/12/15 in the Tallahassee Democrat.