Sunday, March 20, 2011

Education Reform: Boondoggling along

As SB736/HB7019 heads to Governor Scott's desk for signature, questions continue on costs. The Senate Pre-K12 Appropriations subcommittee peppered Commissioner Smith on costs, even though these committee members are the most knowledgeable on the question of costs. An article in the Tampa Gradebook asked if the questions indicate the bill went through too fast. Race to the Top funds will pay for most of the development of new tests, but no word on funding after federal funds run out. The merit pay portion of the bill receives no new money. Governor Scott indicates that he will sign the bill without answers to basic costs question indicating he is apparently satisfied that there will be no impact on taxpayers.

President Obama has presented his educational reform "Blueprint" modifying portions of No Child Left Behind, a welcome aspect; however, the plan includes additional testing to measure growth before the high-stakes test and pinpoint areas that require more attention. The rationale is that the correct things are not being tested. Congress is in a budget cutting mood and education will not get special attention on the chopping block.

Nationwide, parent unhappiness over the obsession with testing is getting some notice.

Duncan last September said he has visited 42 states and that nearly everywhere he went, teachers, parents, principals and lawmakers complained that what's taught in school is narrowing as more teachers focus on improving scores in standardized tests, especially in schools with large numbers of disadvantaged students.

Pennsylvania allows parents to "opt out" of standardized testing and there is a movement to do just that in order to cause a shift away from schools as testing factories.
Under Pennsylvania Code Title 22 Chapter 4, section 4 (d)(5), parents have the right to opt out of testing for their children. The exemption is “religious,” but the Pennsylvania Department of Education confirmed this includes any moral, psychological, philosophical or even medical objection. The reason cannot be challenged.
A large national "opt-out" movement, will impact the quantity and frequency of tests and the way the results are used. Such a movement would impact the vast amount of dollars spent on test development, scoring, and implementation costs. Apparently, the only "opt-out" provision available in Florida is to homeschool or find a private school, where other accountability rules apply.

Against this backdrop, there are clear supporters of maintaining the status quo on the testing routine.


  1. I have the entire database of the recent PISA test results, every student, every test, every question (as I have all the past PISA exams and TIMSS exams). I have poured through these results countless evenings and our students did poorly indeed and I work with inventors and artists and every other imanginable type of successful person, and they would not have these scores. But we do have some students that are making the grade, it depends on the school and the students going to the school.

    A recent analsysis of a lie regarding PISA results...

  2. I will take a look at your research.