The state’s most recognized superintendent was clearly mad yesterday. Alberto Carvalho, a man who carefully chooses his words said some interesting things at the Miami-Dade school board meeting yesterday about this week’s FCAT nightmare. From Miami Herald columnist Fred Grimm:
“What we saw yesterday , we predicted,” Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho told his school board Wednesday. “We knew [the percentage of failures] would be significant. What we didn’t know was how severe.”
Carvalho described a chaotic series of “recurring and ever changing” teaching standards pouring out of the state over the last year, most of them after the school year was well under way. He counted 18 major changes.
Teachers, whose salaries depend, in part, on FCAT scores, started out the school year expecting to emphasize certain accountability criteria but learned along the way that the state had decided otherwise.
Carvalho, clearly angry, said the state board also decided to include test scores from foreign language students in just their second year of learning English when calculating school grades and teacher evaluations. That amounts to 67,000 kids in his system — no other school district comes close — putting Miami-Dade County schools and its teachers at a mighty competitive disadvantage for state award money and teacher bonuses.
Then the state board ruled that special-education children enrolled in alternative schools would also be tested, except the results will be applied to schools that they normally would have attended, except for their disability. “Schools in which they might have never walked through the door,” Carvalho said. “It’s insane.”
Grimm also reports that the “Fort Myers News-Press, looking at the state’s mandatory testing regime, counted 27 standardized tests that eighth-grade students were required to jam into this school year.” Grimm offers more:
Someone, in this test-obsessed state, has clearly failed. I don’t think it was the kids.
But most telling is what the state’s largest district is preparing to do. From Laura Isen See in the Miami Herald:
For next steps, Carvalho said the Miami-Dade district is joining forces with about two dozen local, state and national groups to consider all options, including “legal options available to us” if the state’s changes disproportionately impact one group of students.
The local School Board approved a proposal by board member Raquel Regalado to ask the state to explore alternatives to the FCAT that do not penalize school districts. “I think it would be good if we’re clear with parents about the different options,” she said.
Which national groups? Is Caravlho signaling Miami-Dade’s willingness to endorse the National Resolution Against High Stakes Testing?