Writes reporter Katie Tammen in the Northwest Florida Daily News:
FORT WALTON BEACH — The Okaloosa County School Board is preparing to take a stand on high-stakes testing.
The board will vote next week whether to support a resolution asking state officials to rethink standardized tests that currently affect everything from students’ grades and retention to teacher evaluations and pay.
“There’s so much emphasis on the test that we’re losing sight of what we’re trying to do,” School Board member Cindy Frakes said. “Teaching is no longer a desirable job for people.”
If the board approves the resolution, it will join many other school districts across the state that are calling for the reform of the current testing model.
Frakes proposed making a public statement during a board workshop Thursday primarily because of the shortcomings of standardized tests recently brought to light. Last month, parents, teachers and districts were shocked to learn only 27 percent of Florida’s fourth-graders passed the writing section of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. The state Board of the Education later lowered the proficiency score to increase the overall pass rate.
“Those scores took everybody unawares,” Frakes said. “ … It’s time for us to stomp our collective foot and say, ‘This is enough.’ ”
The board will not ask Gov. Rick Scott or the Florida Department of Education to do away with standardized exams, but to lessen their long-term impact.
“Let’s take a step back and look at this,” Frakes said. “We have to have an evaluation piece, but is this the right evaluation piece?”
In addition to unnecessarily slapping near permanent labels on children with the levels of proficiency model, the FCAT places undue stress on students, and that needs to change, she said.
“We don’t need to be making our kids sick over some test,” Frakes said.
Frakes will draft a resolution that other board members will review and edit before voting on it Monday.
This is my school district and as a rule, I do not editorialize on district issues. Having said this, the appearance of the Resolution on Okaloosa’s board agenda may be the most astonishing to date. There is no more Red Republican county in the state. Governor Rick Scott is popular here. One of Okaloosa county’s state senators is Don Gaetz who is one of the biggest proponents of Florida’s current test-dominated system.