Did California Governor Jerry Brown’s Decision to Derail Testing Influence Rick Scott’s FCAT Rankings Gambit?

Topher Sanders reports in the Florida Times-Union:

At the request of Gov. Rick Scott, state Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson has ranked Florida’s 67 school districts by student achievement and St. Johns County is No. 1, according

It’s unclear what the ranking considers and what methodology was used to develop the list.

Scott’s spokesman Brian Burgess said Scott did request a list but that the governor’s office wasn’t ready to speak on the matter.

The Florida Department of Education is scheduled to hold a news conference on the rankings Monday at 10 a.m.

As the rankings by FCAT data were Scott’s idea, its clear that it was done for political reasons. Policy manners would certainly have involved Robinson. The fact that Scott’s handlers released word on a Friday for a Monday morning press conference shows that Scott wanted to not let opposition for such data to build.

How come?

Scott’s gotten everything he’s wanted on education policy and rode out the storm on strengthening FCAT’s influence last year. He has a compliant legislature on education policy who shares his loathing for teachers and the public school system. Why would he want to bring this down now? Especially during a legislative session.

Perhaps we should look to the west for an answer. Earlier this week, California governor Jerry Brown gave test-base reformers a broad-side with his decision to slow his state’s testing regime. The Los Angeles Times quotes Brown from his State of the State address this week:

Gov. Jerry Brown, in his State of the State address Wednesday, said California public school students take too many standardized tests, and that the results of those exams are not analyzed quickly enough.

“I believe it’s time to reduce the number of tests and get the results to teachers, principals and superintendents in weeks, not months,” he said.

Brown also called for districts to have more control over their budgets, and for state lawmakers to remove requirements that districts spend money on specific programs.

“What most needs to be avoided is concentrating more and more decision-making at the federal or state level,” he said.

Two widely read national education bloggers in Valerie Strauss and Anthony Cody wrote about Brown’s astonishing position that’s at odds with President Barack Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Brown’s stand serves as the sharpest defeat for test-based reformers to date.

But even more, Brown’s policy shift represents as Cody writes, as something that “puts the testing juggernaut on ice.” Ed reformers of all shapes, sizes and agenda’s cannot succeed without standardized tests being the anchor to which our nation’s entire education infrastructure is attached.  Badly in need of a quick counter attack, what better way that to show just how much tests mean again in another big state like Florida.


About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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