Sunday, June 3, 2012

Florida Accountability Concerns Increase

In spite of Florida Commissioner of Education Gerard Robinson whirl-wind talking tour of Florida on the heels of the FCAT fiasco, parents, community members, and taxpayers remain unconvinced of the validity of Florida's assessment initiative. editorial page editor Brad Rogers commented on the FCAT Writing fiasco saying: "Too many people on the front lines — principals, teachers and parents — have far too many criticisms of FCAT for Robinson, Gov. Rick Scott and our lawmakers to continue playing the hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil game."

Rogers points out the public wants accountability, but not expensive, experimentation. After all, who exactly is footing the bill?

Call me a skeptic, but nothing is likely to change. First of all, most of Robinson’s comments about FCAT concerns have largely been in defense of the high-stakes test. Second, while Robinson and his masters in the governor’s mansion and the Legislature keep raising the bar — which, I believe, most Floridians agree is prudent — they are doing nothing to help local school districts meet the challenge. For example, when the Tallahassee crowd mandated all testing be done on computers, schools received no help to buy enough computers to get the job done, despite millions in new costs.

The more state level officials try to explain, the less confidence the public has that the testing has any value. Reusing a worn out largely indefensible narrative, Robinson repeats that high stakes testing has been good for Florida and without it we would be turning back the clock on the meteoric progress made. He warns that test scores will continue to be low as the state transitions to the national assessments based on the Common Core standards; but ignores basic questions on current implementation.

Currently, four Florida School Boards (Martin, St. Lucie, Palm Beach, and Broward) have voted a resolution that rejects the FCAT as the sole means for grading Florida schools saying it is an "and inadequate and unreliable measure of student learning," and rejects the over emphasis on standardized testing. Reports indicate that the Orange County School Board is going to review the resolution.

The Florida School Board Association will convene a meeting with representation by all 67-school boards and an emergency item has been placed on the agenda to discuss encouraging the State Board of Education "to revamp its testing and accountability methods, and add more variety to the way student progress is measured."

More reporting found here.