I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

So Who is Really Driving the High Stakes Testing in Escambia County and Statewide?

Gerard Robinson at Warrington Middle School, 2011

It isn’t the State, if you take it from Commissioner of Education Gerard Robinson.  Nope.  It is the individual districts that are piling on all of the testing—not the state!

From his blog:

Florida statutes require students take the FCAT in grades 3-10. These assessments average two to three per student per school year and account for less than one percent of the instructional time provided during the year.  It is worth noting that local school boards require students to take many more assessments than those required by the state.”
Well, the problem with the above statement is that it simply isn’t true, and I find it incredible

 that Robinson would make such a statement.  The picture below illustrates the testing that occurs to all students in Escambia County in any given year.  Of these tests, 29 are foisted on

 us and required by the State of Florida---29!  One test, the NAEP, is required by the Federal Government, Two tests are optional and up to the student (ACT and SAT for college bound students), and only 3 of these tests are district optional tests.  3!  This information was compiled by the district’s Evaluation services and Curriculum Superintendent’s offices—so I have no reason to doubt its validity.  But the High Stakes Testing is only part of the problem with the top-down Tallahassee culture.
What is even worse about all of the top down, heavy handed mandates and tests being shoved down our throats by Tallahassee is the move by DOE to do the testing online.  This sounds good, and it will save DOE money, but the costs to districts for the additional broadband capacity, computers, and other peripherals is not coming from DOE.  Locally, these are costs that will rapidly deplete our capital outlay budgets.  To the best of my knowledge, the savings DOE will realize from the move to computer based testing will not be passed along to districts, and this is wrong.
Robinson is upset that the Florida School Boards Association stepped up and sent out a resolution to their member counties—decrying the burdensome testing the state is requiring.  Instead of addressing the issue of over testing—The commissioner instead attempts to marginalize what is being said in the proclamation by disseminating falsehoods about who is driving the testing.
How disappointing. 
I support Governor Scott — and I wholeheartedly support intelligent, reasonable testing to measure achievement--but the current testing protocols of the state and the recent major hiccups with the grading and goal-post moving need to be fixed-- blame should not be deflected to the individual districts that are being strangled by these mandates and subjected to these ridiculous machinations! 
Step up, own the issue, and fix the problem DOE!!—And while you’re at it—how about telling the TRUTH about who’s driving all of the high stakes testing statewide, why don't you?

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