Deception and Spin From the Florida Board of Education

Jeb Bush’s cronies blinked.

Lost – for now anyway – in today’s hastily thrown together decision by the Florida Board of Education to reduce passing FCAT Writing scores,  was yesterday’s sloppy attempt to spin the numbers. Gradebook’s Jeff Solochek reports on this response from board member Akshay Desai:

“There was a huge impact when the number of scorers and their options changed. In 2011, there was only one scorer and the scoring choices were even numbers 1 through 6. Last year, our board became worried about the cutback to just one scorer.

 “Happily, the legislature now supports two scorers, with greater differentiation using half-point differences. I think a cut score for the 2012 test at 3.5 is a fair reflection of our students’ abilities, and I’ll probably support the Commissioner’s recommendation.”

Desai’s nuance sounded so good that another board member John Padget emailed the identical note to Solocheck only to back pedal a few minutes later

So who penned the e-mail? Board members are supposed to be independent and shouldn’t be releasing the same statement as if it were their own. Did Desai write it and CC other board members for spin control? Does collaboration like this violate Sunshine Laws?  And if Desai is correct and the numbers can be easily explained, why did the board act in less than 24 hours?

What folks may not remember is that the board, which includes Commissioner Gerard Robinson, are now holding the bag on the FCAT cut score increases that Jeb Bush and the Florida Chamber of Commerce pushed through in December 2011. Opponents to the cut score increases were vindicated today by the same board who disagreed with them just five months ago.



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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One Response to Deception and Spin From the Florida Board of Education

  1. Why not just petition the removal of FCAT and go back to the standard achievement test. I can understand the importance of being able to read. Teachers were seriously lacking in this area, as, there was no way a little tyke could pass a grade and not know how to read. Not to mention a second problem. Teachers who are paying several hundreds dollars for their diploma and have not stepped one foot into a classroom or have educated themselves in the field of teaching or come into this country and English is their second language. This hurts the children. Also note, I’ve heard this up and down town, where, school is more like a boot camp and teachers spend more time being drill sergeants rather than teaching.

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