So Gerard Robinson’s FCAT Apology Tour continued yesterday in Fort Lauderdale. This time, he brought back-up in the form of Board of Education member Barbara Feingold. Different town, same show. From the Sun Sentinel’s Scott Travis:
Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson remained upbeat about ways to improve schools as he spoke with about 50 parents, students, educators and other community members at a town hall at Broward College’s Fort Lauderdale tower.
Many voiced familiar complaints, such as instructors teaching to the test and too much weight being placed on a single test.
FCAT scores factor into everything from school grades to student promotion and graduation to teacher pay. School districts in Broward and Palm Beach counties are among a growing list of school systems that have passed resolutions opposing high-stakes testing.
Jennifer Pettit, 17, a student at College Academy high school in Davie, complained that the FCAT preparation cuts too much into class time.
“It’s very difficult to get through a full science week because of FCAT training,” she said. “And it’s not just science. It’s other classes, too.”
Robinson said the state doesn’t control how much time schools spend preparing students for the test.
“What we want is not teaching to the FCAT, but teaching to the standards that they need to learn,” he said. “This exam is a snapshot of how students are doing .”
What an eye-roller. Robinson is either delusional or just continues to mislead Floridians. And his argument is self-contradictory. The students, parents in the audience already know that FCAT is a “snapshot” and was never intended to be anything more than that. Worse for Robinson, they understand that FCAT is being used and manipulated for far more. Robinson’s hoping that if he and his allies just keep repeating their talking points it will make them true.
One of those allies, Rick Scott BOE-appointee Barbara Feingold, read from the same desperate sheet of music.
Barbara Feingold, a member of the state Board of Education for Delray Beach, urged those in the audience to get behind the state’s efforts to improve education, so students will be better trained for college and careers.
“The only way we’re going to do that is pushing accountability and pushing the rigor,” she said. “The more accountable we are, the better our students are going to be, and the more people are going to want to come to Florida.”
Feingold, who fancies herself as knowledgeable on education found herself unable to articulate convincingly or in a reassuring manner with the usual “accountability” and “rigor” thematics. How can she? Floridians have come to understand that the two terms mean high-stakes tests like FCAT which Robinson himself described as merely “a snapshot of how students are doing .”
Has Florida – or any state for that matter – ever had public policy loathed by so many and defended by so few?