Will Orange County School Board Be Next to Pass Resolution on High Stakes Tests?

WMFE Radio reports:

The Broward County School Board has become the fourth in Florida to pass a resolution opposing the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test as the primary means for measuring student progress. And now, an Orange County School Board member is leading a task force that will ask state education officials to re-evaluate the FCAT next month.

Rick Roach of the Orange County School Board agrees with Broward County’s new resolution calling the FCAT “an inadequate and often unreliable measure of both student learning and educator effectiveness.” Roach put together a task force to investigate not only the method of standardized testing, but the test itself.

In fact, he sat down and took parts of the 10th grade FCAT…and didn’t do so well. He says what he found on the test surprised him.

“In many cases, some of the more rigorous questions have 2 or even 3 answers that are very, very similar and could be supported as an answer,” he says. “But the test maker has one particular answer in mind and all the other ones are zero value.”

The task force concluded that the State Board of Education should be encouraged to revamp its testing and accountability methods, and add more variety to the way student progress is measured. He presented the findings to the ten-county Central Florida School Board Coalition.

“That resulted in a very very favorable decision by the coalition who are now taking this entire issue to the Florida School Board Association, all 67 counties, in mid-June,” Roach says. “That’s now on the agenda as an emergency item.”

The Florida School Board Association meeting takes place in Tampa.

The other three Florida counties that have voted in opposition to the FCAT are Martin, Saint Lucie and Palm Beach.

The Orlando Sentinel’s Leslie Postal reports this morning that opposition to Florida’s testing culture is growing. In-depth stories like these continue to be joined by opinion writers from the state’s newspapers. Editorial page editor of the Ocala Star-Banner,  Brad Rogers offered this:

Too many people on the front lines — principals, teachers and parents — have far too many criticisms of FCAT for Robinson, Gov. Rick Scott and our lawmakers to continue playing the hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil game.

FCAT is important and necessary in diagnosing what our students and schools need to succeed. But when year after year there are massive and measurable problems that bring into question its credibility and validity, it is clear the high-stakes test upon which so much rides needs a fundamental review, if not an overhaul.

There’s no question that the wave against high-stakes testing is growing. the local school boards of an entire state – Texas, and an entire state’s principalship – New York are already formerly organized and committed to change. The test-first gang cannot win a PR battle against them. Voters are far more likely to lean toward the wisdom of school principals and school boards than they are state legislators in some far-off state capitol.


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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