Florida’s republican legislators don’t like to be accused of ending local control of schools. But trying to end school board member salaries and giving final oversight of charter schools to Tallahassee political appointees is well, attempting to end local control of schools. It must really chap their behind when a clever school member from a big district mocks the anchor to their education philosophy. Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel reports:
The pain and frustration of failing FCAT gets on-air attention in a new video that was produced by — and stars — local high school students.
“I took it, failed it,” says one student from Freedom High in Orange County. “My Mom loved me, still she had that look like, ‘ugh, I can’t believe you failed it.’ It was a hard time for me.”
The video produced in Freedom’s television production studio also features School Board member Rick Roach, who wants to “stop the madness” of Florida’s high-stakes testing program. He proposed the video after visiting a Freedom remedial reading class filled with students who had failed FCAT.
Roach thinks the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test — a series of exams in math, reading, science and writing taken by nearly 2 million students each year — doesn’t accurately measure academic abilities, particularly reading.
“It’s all about beating the test maker,” he said.
Roach made national news last year when he took versions of the 10th–grade FCAT exams, failed them and then told his story to The Washington Post. That experience prompted his visits to high school reading classes.
Roach also doesn’t like the severe consequences students face under state law if they fail key FCAT exams, such as repeating a grade, taking remedial classes and failing to earn a diploma.
The veteran Orange County School Board member began sharing the video this week and hopes School Board members across Florida will use it to question state policies.
The video comes on the heels of a new, national anti-testing campaign announced last week that urges state and national leaders to scale back testing programs.
“I really think it’s an enough-is-a-enough feeling,” said Bob Schaeffer, public education director for FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing, of the campaign’s creators.
Schaeffer hadn’t seen the Freedom video but said students in other states also have taken to film or stage to object to high-stakes tests.
The Freedom video showcases seven students who take honors classes and have good grades — but failed the FCAT reading exam needed for graduation.
It opens with the teenagers reading aloud passages from novels. Then they describe their FCAT experience.
“You just take it, you fail it and then all those good GPA’s, all those good grades, all those good test grades, they’re nothing,” a girl says.
Florida high school students are taking Pearson end-of-course exams in Algebra, Biology and Geometry this month. Validity for the test questions comes from vague Sunshine State Standards that even students view as ambiguous. Opposition to Jeb Bush’s testing regime has advanced from the grumbling stage to a national resolution. Mocking videos are a new thrill.