Frank Barbieri is on the first Florida school board which passed a resolution on high-stakes testing. The chairman of the Palm Beach board offers his own words in this morning’s Palm Beach Post:
…………..We oppose the over-reliance on the FCAT. One test given on one day does not define each child’s progress annually, nor can it be used to demonstrate a teacher’s mastery of skills.
Everyone agrees we must have sensible accountability that measures students’ proficiency and their progress the same year. The FCAT, with its troubled history of testing errors and scoring issues, does not measure what we need. In fact, it measures one part of the previous year and a portion of the current year, where most subjects are only covered up to 70 percent because of the test’s timing.
Today we have a misguided system of accountability which is wildly over-weighted on the FCAT.
Who would have imagined a decade ago that the FCAT would determine a school’s funding, whether a child would be retained at grade level, assigned remediation or denied a diploma? Or that the FCAT would determine teacher salaries, continued employment or even the closing of schools? This has gone too far.
Ironically, this all-powerful FCAT is worthless to the child. Neither the student nor the teacher sees the results to determine where they need to improve. We spend millions on this test and all its trappings, materials, software, hardware, instruction to personnel, additional security staff, and new computers. We’ve lost sight of the children and their needs. We depleted the life force of creativity out of children. For some, a nurturing school is their only hope at a solid future. We’re systematically destroying that by irrationally centering our schools and curriculum around testing.
The incessant focus on this one almighty test narrows curriculum. Many schools can’t offer language, the arts, Advanced Placement courses, electives for job-ready positions, civics and literature because of the time and money spent on test-prep, remediation, FCAT re-takes and test-taking classes.
We support this resolution objecting to over-reliance on the FCAT because we support a high-quality education for children. We promote this resolution to other counties because we believe it’s time to open up the dialogue on this broken accountability system.
Barbieri speaks directly to Commissioner Gerard Robinson dismissal of critics who “just don’t like tests” and explains what defenders of Florida’s status quo like Robinson aren’t admitting. Florida’s children go to school for 180 days, but only one of those days matter. And on that day, tax dollars are allocated and futures determined.