The editorial pages of the big state newspapers are weighing in the morning on what Gerard Robinson’s departure means – on in the case of the Orlando Sentinel, what it should mean:
With some districts’ new school years less than two weeks off, putting a decision-maker in place quickly makes sense. What also makes sense is to embrace Robinson’s exit as a soul-searching moment — and take a hard look at whether Florida needs to rethink portions of its school-accountability system.
Recent criticism roiled Robinson’s one-year stint and sparked a populist backlash — joined by local school boards. Critics decried underwhelming FCAT writing scores. And they pointed to the state Department of Education’s embarrassing miscalculation of school grades as proof Florida’s FCAT-based accountability system needs an overhaul.
Education demands accountability. Yet, of late, even Gov. Rick Scott — bullish on accountability and Robinson’s hire — rightly has wondered whether Florida dishes out too much of a good thing. Something to keep in mind when considering Robinson’s replacement — someone who’s not only open-minded to accountability, but open-minded to testing’s limits.
If the state’s accountability system is to evolve into the rigorous, fair and sensible system that evaluates Florida students, and ensures they’re ready to compete, Robinson’s exit is the opportune time to start that conversation.
A conversation, eh? As USF professor Sherman Dorn told John O’Connor of StateImpact yesterday, key policy-makers and republican legislators have shown no such inclination. The company line is to say FCAT will be gone in two years and replaced by PARC, a national test based on common core standards. But the evasion represents a different, and still unknown monster. Policy-makers and republicans don’t want changes to the accountability system that means everything to schools, students and teachers and insist that changing the guts of the thing with a different virus will be just fine.