The Unanswered Questions of Florida’s Test-Based Accountability Systems

While the folks at Gerard Robinson’s DOE and Jeb Bush’s foundations want the controversy over the state’s accountability system to just go away, it won’t even if the media stops covering it. Consequences and damage remain. So do the smothering legislative tools. In a letter-to-the-editor to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Marie Eggert explains:

Recently, it was announced that six Volusia County schools earned higher grades than originally reported because of errors in the way their earlier ratings had been calculated.

Now, let us review the impact these scores have on our schools:

•These ever-shifting scores are used to determine student placement in classes.

•They are used to determine who will graduate high school and who will pass from third to fourth grade.

•Schools that have not improved must develop remediation programs both within the school setting and contracted with outside providers.

•Starting this school year (2012-2013), 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation will be determined by students’ test scores.

Now, this raises the following questions:

If the same test-scores are changed so frequently, how can they have any validity?

How can the same test scores be used to judge how much each student has learned and to evaluate a teacher’s performance in the classroom?

How can teachers be expected to know what they must do to receive a good evaluation when scores keep changing even after the test has been taken?

Are you, the taxpayer, satisfied with the way $70 million of your tax dollars are being spent? Do you think you are getting your money’s worth?

As the summer moves along Florida’s media apparatus will be consumed by next month’s  primary races and the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Then the presidential race will suck all the oxygen out of the air. But the realities and unanswered questions that Eggert details will remain and those school board members and superintendents the Tallahassee clique loathes so much will be dealing with the mess they created.

Some have  already taken action. Palm Beach County’ school board, the first in the state to pass the National Resolution on High-Stakes Testing postponed implementation of their teacher evaluation system. Other districts are bound to follow.  A news pause can’t stop the collapse


About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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