Will a Florida Superintendent of Schools Stand Up Against Testing?


Ann Doss Helms reports in the Charlotte Observer:

The barrage of new state tests being rolled out this year is “an egregious waste of taxpayer dollars” that won’t help kids, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Superintendent Heath Morrison said Thursday.

He joins a band of superintendents across the country fighting the push to use student testing to rate teachers and schools. Earlier this month, the superintendent in Montgomery County, Md., called for a three-year moratorium on standardized testing and an end to “the insanity” of evaluating teachers on test scores, according to The Washington Post.

Morrison said he’s working with Montgomery County Superintendent Joshua Starr, as well as a network of district leaders inside and outside North Carolina, to try to counteract the national testing craze.

“I am very troubled by the amount of testing we are being asked to do,” Morrison told The Charlotte Observer editorial board. “We can teach our way to the top, but we cannot test our way to the top. We’re getting ready in the state of North Carolina to put out 177 new exams.”

Those tests will take too much time from teaching, won’t be effective for improving student or teacher performance, and will soon be replaced by new exams tied to national Common Core standards, Morrison said.

It’s a sharp change of direction for the leader of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Just two years ago, then-Superintendent Peter Gorman spent county money to create dozens of new exams to be used for teacher ratings, only to have them scrapped after he resigned in 2011.

Two dozen school boards from across the state – including those in republican strongholds like Okaloosa County  – have passed resolutions on high-stakes testing.  The number of superintendents rom across the nation to take public stands against testing is growing. More from Helms:

Starr got national attention for his testing remarks at a Washington Post Live education panel earlier this month. According to a Post education blog, Starr said national education leaders are trying to do too much too fast, and concluded “We need a three-year moratorium on all standardized tests.”

Morrison said he’s part of a consortium with Starr in suburban D.C., along with leaders of districts in Fairfax County, Va., and Gwinett and Fulton counties in suburban Atlanta. He said he and other North Carolina superintendents have met with state Superintendent June Atkinson to raise their concerns that the new exams will do more harm than good.

Florida education commissioner Tony Bennett talks the good game about communication, but noting about him indicates that he is anything but a high-stakes testing zealot. Any education reformer who cannot go three sentences without saying accountability and can’t stop talking about Common Core won’t be open to slowing that train.

But how much is it going to be up to Bennett, the Bush Foundation and the Florida Chamber of Commerce? While the three certainly have allies on the state board and  top legislative posts – Rep. Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel) and Sen. Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) – skepticism from voters is beginning to emerge. StateImpact’s Gina Jordan reported yesterday on the broad opposition of Floridians to the board’s race-based education goals.

Such revolting calculus is the new norm in Tony Bennett’s accountability universe. And Jeb Bush’s, too. It is he who encouraged No Child Left Behind waivers and Race to the Top grants which forced state’s into adopting them. So a second round of local push-backs are certain to begin. Fresh off the SB 736 debacle, Florida’s local school superintendents are wary of the Common Core standards roll-out and new rounds of new tests. Knowing that they have the support of their school board and all of the state’s parent groups, we may see some of the state’s 67 superintendents step up.

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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One Response to Will a Florida Superintendent of Schools Stand Up Against Testing?

  1. Pingback: Will a Florida Superintendent of Schools Stand Up Against Testing? | FPEP Blog

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