In the aftermath of the Alachua school board adopting a resolution against high-stakes tests, the editors of the Gainesville Sun say its time for Rick Scott to lead the state away from its current hyper testing mandates.
What should be Tallahassee’s response? Ignore the school districts and continue to require ever-tougher and ever more frequent testing? Give in and back away from using tests to determine not only student achievement but school funding?
Here’s a suggestion for Gov. Rick Scott: Why not use the growing disenchantment with the FCAT to initiate a new era of state-district collaboration.
The problem all along has been that the state’s mandatory testing regime is a top-down process; a mandate imposed by the Legislature and passed on by the DOE with little or no input from the district level.
Scott’s response to the school districts — his challenge, really — ought to go something like this:
You don’t like the FCAT? Fine. What’s your Plan B?
What alternative tests, measurements and standards should the state adopt that would accurately assess student academic progress and fairly hold schools accountable for doing what they are supposed to do; educate Florida’s children?
We imagine that the professional educators and administrators at the district level would embrace such a challenge. For his part, if he can be persuaded that there is a better way to measure student performance and school accountability, Scott ought to be prepared to take such a “Plan B” to the Legislature this year for consideration.
That’s called collaboration, and it is exactly the opposite approach from the top-down dictatorial process that gave Florida the FCAT.
Reasonable people who aren’t ideologically driven would see the wisdom in such a proposal. Rick Scott is no such man as he is far too personally invested in Florida’s current path. From his signature on a test-based teacher evaluation system at a charter school to his bizarre decision to rank Florida districts based on FCAT scores, Scott’s been all-in on using test results for just about everything. Its not up to him anyway. Floridians know that Jeb Bush controls all state education policy.
Still, its fair to conclude that Jeb Bush and his disciples are reeling from the force of push-backs against their reforms. They been operating on self-righteous blather of empty mantras and false platitudes. We may well look back and see that it began in Florida this spring when a handful of real mothers of real Florida children turned back Bush’s parent trigger bill. Bush never expected opposition from parents as he felt they bought into his narrative.
And Bush now is facing an opponent he cannot defeat from the bully pulpit in those parents he assumed he had in his pocket. Their opposition to high-stakes testing represents a strike at the foundation of Bush’s reform package. Education historian Diane Ravitch sees the meaning of all this:
“……parents–the sleeping giant–have been awakened”