Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson has made it to the big leagues . PolitFact , the Tampa Bay Times -Miami Herald project usually reserved for elected officials, decided to weigh in on Robinson’s June 15 whopper:
“The FCAT neither drives the curriculum nor narrows the educational experience of Florida students. These assessments average two to three per student per school year and account for less than 1 percent of the instructional time provided during the year. It is worth noting that local school boards require students to take many more assessments than those required by the state.”
PolitiFact decided to narrow their inquiry to Robinson’s one percent claim although its noteworthy that he, too, is advancing the company line (Like Bush’s key lobbyist, Patricia Levesque) that its districts fault for their being so many tests. Robinson’s one percent nonsense was dispatched by interviews with three south Florida teachers.
Robinson said that the FCAT tests “account for less than 1 percent of the instructional time provided during the year.” This was a prepared statement, based on research done by his staff, in response to FCAT critics who say that schools devote too much time to the tests.
Readers could assume that by “instructional time” Robinson was including regular lesson time in the classroom preparing for the FCAT. He wasn’t. His office says that referred to the number of minutes taking the test out of the total minutes of instruction per year. But he didn’t provide that explanation in his statement.
In reality, there is no clear way to quantify how much time teachers spend preparing students for the test. Some teachers say they spend practically all their time on the FCAT.
Robinson’s goal was to deflect criticism that too much time is spent “teaching to the test.” He is suggesting that the FCAT eats up only a smidgen of a school year. But for students, parents and teachers who spend months preparing for those tests, Robinson’s words are misleading.
We rate this claim False.
The growing number of critical thinking opponents understand that Robinson and Levesque are engaged in a desperate propaganda campaign to save their legacy. Such “misleading” assertions are intentional. But Robinson and Levesque aren’t talking to opponents. They’re not even talking to the media anymore. This PolitiFact smackdown of Robinson will have long-lasting ramifications.
Robinson and Levesque are talking to nervous republican legislators who’ve been buying their brand for a decade. Even the privatization, anti-teacher union zealots among them understand this thing is collapsing. And “this thing” is bigger than just FCAT, although Robinson and Levesque would love to limit conversation to that. Robinson’s one-percenter means 100 percent to students, schools, administrators and teachers in rigid accountability legislation Florida republicans have been blindly shoving through just because Jeb Bush said so. Its on them now.