Telling the Orlando Sentinel that “we have an accountability system that is going to fall apart like a house of cards,” retiring Seminole superintendent of schools Bill Vogel criticized state leaders for “making up the rules as they go along” without listening to educators.
Vogel, superintendent of Seminole County schools, has a reputation as a vocal leader in public education — and he has been speaking even more forcefully as he heads toward retirement at the end of the month.
Over-testing; a misguided teacher-evaluation system; inadequate funding; charter schools; and the push to privatize public education and finance religious schools with tax dollars are on his worry list. A crisis looms, he says, that could topple public faith in how the schools measure student success.
“The credibility of the entire education-accountability system is at risk,” Vogel said.
At the core of his concerns is the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test — a simple exam originally designed to help teachers measure what students have learned and correct their academic shortcomings. The test, he says, is increasingly being misused.
Assessments such as the FCAT now drive curriculum and narrow the focus of education to reading, writing, math and science, Vogel said. That makes it difficult for Seminole to pursue its “Triple ‘A’ Experience” for students that emphasizes a balance of academics, arts and athletics.
For opposition to high-stakes tests to continue in Florida, voices like Vogel will be needed. Incoming leaders of the Florida House and Senate are certainly more diplomatic in their words, but at the same time are signalling that things won’t be changing. Let’s hope this isn’t the last time we hear from Vogel.