From Chritine Hawes in the Bradenton Herald:
MANATEE — With an extra nod toward “accountability,” the Manatee County School Board Monday approved its own version of a resolution approved by 12 other Florida school boards that objects to the importance placed on standardized tests like the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.
Manatee’s resolution was written collectively by board members and asks state and federal lawmakers to find another way to hold students and schools accountable. The resolution specifically reaches out to Gov. Rick Scott, the Florida Legislature, the state Department of Education, Congress and the presidential administration.
It calls on state officials “to reexamine public school accountability systems in the State of Florida, and to develop a system based on multiple forms of assessment, which more accurately reflects the broad range of student learning and is used to support students and improve schools.” It asks federal officials “to reduce the testing mandates, promote multiple forms of evidence of student learning and school quality in accountability and not mandate any fixed role for the use of student test scores in evaluating educators.”
But unlike the National Resolution on High-Stakes Testing, passed by 12 other Florida school boards and almost 400 Texas school boards, Manatee’s version explicitly emphasizes the district’s support for accountability. “We are not against accountability,” said School Board Chair Harry Kinnan. “But we’re advocating change.”
Manatee’s version also softens the attack on high-stakes testing, saying it “can cause collateral damage” and “can have negative effects on students.” The national resolution proclaims that high-stakes testing has negative effects, especially on low-income students, students with disabilities and English language learners.
The Manatee resolution is nuanced but still speaks directly to the be-all, end-all of high-stakes tests. Status quoers like Jeb Bush and his Gang of Five evade the essence of the problem with coded rhetoric. Predictably the Florida Chamber of Commerce has weighed in with this from Marshall Criser III:
Florida’s approach to setting standards and using assessments to measure student progress has helped schools improve. Florida was once ranked third from the bottom out of 50 states; now we’re 11th from the top in the Education Week’s annual Quality Counts report.
As a member of Florida’s business community, I proudly offer my support for continued education reforms that will help ensure our students are prepared for success after high school — college, career training or the workforce.
I encourage others in the business community to support clearer and higher standards by helping schools focus resources and training.
Our children deserve the highest quality education we can give them.
Isn’t trotting out the president of AT&T Florida kinda like using Anna Wintour? All that’s left out of Criser’s deceptive condescension was “let them eat tests.”