The Florida Department of Education and Ed commissioner Gerard Robinson have feverishly been doing damage control in the aftermath of the FCAT Writes disaster. But Save Duval Schools, an important parent group, called into question the honesty of the information DOE is putting on their website:
Jacksonville, Florida….In response to the rising public outcry over the manipulation of FCAT Writes scores and constantly changing standards, the Florida Department of Education created a new website to answer questions relating to high-stakes testing. In the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) they assured parents they would never set students up to fail, yet just 5 questions later they admit they already have.
Q: Why will some school’s grades drop this year? For the first time in 10 years, Florida has raised the bar for passing scores on the FCAT. As a result, scores dropped this year, and so did many schools’ grades. That does not mean Florida’s children know less than before, or that teachers are doing a bad job. Anytime standards are raised, some students will struggle to meet the new expectations. That’s what happened this year.
“How could the Commissioner and the Department possibly know that students have failed and that our school grades will be lower? The only scores that have been released are the FCAT Writes and the 9th & 10th grade reading scores. Is the Department admitting they already know the scores or that they’re planning to create the results they want?, asked Colleen Wood, a public school parent and advocate.
The FAQs continue to present false information.
Q: How many third graders will be held back under these tougher standards? Some students will need additional help in reaching these new standards. We estimate that as many as perhaps 14 percent of third graders will not meet the new reading standards and may have to repeat third grade.
“FLDOE previously estimated as many as 44% of all 3rd graders may fail the reading and math this year. It is outrageous that Commissioner Robinson and the Florida Department of Education would lie to parents on the very website set up to supposedly tell us the truth. Link to FCAT 2.0 Projected Scores
On the heels of the FCAT Writes debacle, the release of this website only confirms our worst fears; that the Commissioner and Department of Education cannot be trusted to provide us with truthful information. We will not allow our children to be pawns in a high-stakes political game. Their education is not a game. It is their life and our state’s future” said Deborah Gianoulis, Board Chairman of SaveDuvalSchools.org.
The best case scenario for Robinson and the DOE is that the haste in which they acted to get this information out contributed to the errors. But these are huge errors and their occurence speaks volumes. Absolute faith in the data is a must with so many pieces of legislation depending on them. In fact, every education reform measure in the nation is dependent on standardize test data being accepted with gospel-like reverence. Public opinion about high-stakes tests is shifting quickly and Florida is recognized as the most tested state in the nation. A collapse of its testing apparatus will have conseqeunces that will reach across the nation.