Ocala Star-Banner editor Brad Rogers bought Patricia Levesque’s spin that the number of tests that some districts impose is the fault of the districts.
Patricia Levesque’s career has paralleled the rise of FCAT. In the 1990s she was a staff member for the Florida House Education Committee when, during Gov. Lawton Chiles’ administration, the notion of testing to ensure accountability first emerged.
Over the years, Levesque rose in prominence, becoming an advisor to Gov. Jeb Bush, and finally commission of education under Bush. Today, she heads the Foundation for Florida’s Future, a Tallahassee think tank established by Bush whose primary mission is to ensure his education reforms — including standardized testing — continue to move forward.
I talked to Levesque last week about the growing concern that our schools are becoming test factories. She said FCAT was never intended to become what it has, that it was supposed to be an “outcome reference” test, not the primary determinant of students’ and teachers’ futures.
Moreover, she said there is no consistency among Florida school districts as to how standardized tests are delivered. She referred me to a recent analysis the Foundation for Florida’s Future did of 11 large Central Florida school districts, including Marion County.
Perhaps Rogers should have talked to FairTest’s Bob Schaeffer. Schaeffer sent me this email response:
“There is no question that some county school boards mandate additional standardized exams on top of the FCAT. However, Levesque blithely ignores the fact that Florida politicians, spurred by the foundation she heads, have improperly attached so many consequences to FCAT scores that many local administrators feel a spate of practice exams is necessary to get their students ready to do their best on ‘the big test.’ With the FCAT used to determine third-grade promotion, high school graduation, school grades, educator bonuses, voucher eligibility, and now teacher retention, it’s easy to understand why administrators think test prep is so important. ‘Enough already’ is definitely the right reaction. But to stop testing overkill in Florida, the first step must be to ratchet back the misuse and overuse of FCAT scores.”
Levesque, a skilled political operative, is doing everything she can to deflect blame from her and her boss. Throwing districts under the bus is not beneath her as a means to an end. Schaeffer’s response brings focus back to where she wanted to misdirect Rogers from. Levesque obviously doesn’t want to talk about the legislation she’s had a hand in writing which misuses and overuses FCAT scores.