Florida’s EOC Requirement Imperils Private School and Voucher Students While Amendment 8 Looms

UPDATES after the bump

Florida Governor Rick Scott followed through on his promise to be more open and created Project Sunburst, a web site which would publish the emails he receives and sends as governor. One email easily catches the eye of education policy observers across the state. It’s from a director of students affairs at a Florida private school.

Dear Governor Scott:

I am an administrator in a SACS accredited private school. Recently, laws have been passed requiring End of Course (EOC) assessments for classes such as Algebra I and Biology. I have been informed that students leaving our school will be denied credit for these classes because the EOC is not available to them, nor is there an alternative test that can be taken. This seems unfair to me since our students’ families pay their taxes as much as public school students. What’s more, these families bear the cost of education that our government would have had to carry. Private school students should not be penalized for choosing to go to Florida’s private schools. Again, I have been informed by Volusia County Director of Assessments that our students who have received credit for these classes on their transcripts, will not be given credit in a Florida public school if they should transfer. Also, we could not give an EOC ourselves because it would not be a state standardized test. What are we to do?

On another front, given the current failure rate of Florida students on these tests, it seems short sighted to not have an alternative plan for these students. Our public school system will be burdened with students repeating classes and Florida’s drop-out rate will increase. There are many students who are poor test takers, but excellent students. I have seen these students flourish in college, but now, these same students would probably not have a chance to graduate in order to go to college. How does this benefit our state?

I would appreciate an answer to this email. Thank-you for your consideration in this matter.


Darlene Hellender, MS of Ed

Director of Student Affairs

Trinity Christian Academy, Deltona

There are countless imperfections to the “choice” theme which drives Florida’s policymakers. Clearly concerned for her students, Hellender knows that Trinity’s students may return to public schools for any number of reasons. The accountability system that republicans have rammed down Floridian’s throats puts voucher and private school students in a serious  Catch-22. They could certainly take the test when they get to their new school, but they would be at a significant disadvantage as they did not go through an Algebra of Biology class which covered the standards which would be on the test.  Extending EOCs and other high stakes tests to private schools defeats the purpose for families who chose private schools to get away from tests.

Meanwhile Floridians will vote on Amendment 8 – the fraudulently named Religious Freedom Act – which will open the door for vouchers to schools like Trinity. The school’s SAC’s accreditation indicates it’s a fine school and the professional concern that Hellender has for her students is commendable. There are sure to be more instances where Florida’s test obsession puts families and children who are going to private schools or have vouchers in a bind.

It’s doubtful that Jeb Bush’s foundation wants Floridians to know about such problems when they vote on Amendment 8 in less than 80 days. They afterall named it in such a misleading way to begin with. Suppressing flaws, engaging in propaganda and attempting to trick voters is the way education privatization zealots roll.

UPDATE Grumpy Educators has more

UPDATE: So does Missouri Education Watch

UPDATE From conservative blogger Shane Vander Hart


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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2 Responses to Florida’s EOC Requirement Imperils Private School and Voucher Students While Amendment 8 Looms

  1. Ro says:

    Hmm…I bet the Jebster and Ricky didn’t think of that as they were making these insane rules. They will probably change that post haste. We can’t have our private schools look like they are failing too!

  2. Jupiter Mom says:

    EOC’s, as they are implemented now, are a terrible way to discern knowledge of a subject. First, they are given way too early. Why? So they can be scored in time for the end of the semester grade. But, the child then must have the full course completed at an earlier date. In the case of Geometry’s EOC last year, that meant my child must have the full course completed by 6 weeks prior to the end of the school year. If you think about it, students who are in need of a regular or slower pace are at a severe disadvantage. Yet, we do not put the student’s interests first, we put the interests of the calendar first. Second, we have approximately 50% of students flunking these tests. Why are students who are taking advanced classes flunking the tests? There could be many reasons. One possibility is that we have 6 weeks yet to go to finish the coursework. Another is that the test is too hard. I have heard evidence of this as a teacher reported to me seeing higher level material on the Algebra 1 test (there were some Geometry problems on the test). Another is that we are not preparing our students adequately or that we are pushing children to take the course before they are ready. I think we’ll find that all of these are true to varying degrees and need addressing. Yet, we do not. How do we deal with this problem? Give retests, redo the course, hold kids back from graduation, give poor grades. None of these are real solutions to the above significant problems. We are more concerned about raising the holy grail “bar” than helping each and every student to do their best. Now I hear that the EOC’s are going to go away- magically disappear I suppose. And we’ll move to having PARC instead of FCAT. But, it’s all the same. Again, to escape the problems of FCAT, EOC’s and the whole accountability program, we just rename the tests, move the cut off scores, and slap together more remedial classes. Until we wake up and stop all this high stakes nonsense we are just tossing money, time, effort, and sadly our children’s futures out the window. The canary is dying. Why don’t our politicians admit this and start listening to our expert educators- teachers and parents?

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