Dan Gelber: “Getting straight A’s for having lots of tests is not the same as getting A’s on the tests”

And emphasizing twice that “testing is not teaching’ former Florida state senator Dan Gelber chided “the usual suspects engaged in the typical self-adulation,” for Education Week’s recent high-ranking of Florida. This from his column in Florida Voices:

I don’t relish being the guy constantly throwing cold water on the party, but a closer read of the Education Week report reflects what most parents of schools kids already know. All is definitely not well in Florida’s schools. The report grades the 50 states on a variety of education components, and where Florida did well is not nearly as important as where we tanked.

Florida received top grades for its accountability and assessments. In other words, we got an “A” for the amount and quality of testing we conduct in our schools. This should come as no surprise to Florida teachers who feel forced to spend more time giving tests than actually teaching coursework.

But testing is not teaching, and, in fact, in the category of “achievement” Florida was clearly subpar. We earned a C- from Education Week because, according to its report, too many kids are not proficient in math or reading. Plus, our state’s graduation rate was ranked 44th in the nation. The report didn’t event take into account that graduating seniors’ ACT and SAT scores were among the worst in the country or that 50 percent of those who graduate need remedial work if they get to college.

Of course you get what you pay for, and, indeed, our poor achievement score was very close to the D+ we received in the “education funding” category.  According to Education Week,  Florida ranks near the bottom in every relevant education spending metric.

So before they uncork champagne bottles, Floridians should know that the failure of Gov. Scott and the legislature to support public schools adequately has created a palpable achievement deficit in our state. Getting straight A’s for having lots of tests is not the same as getting A’s on the tests. Weighing a malnourished dog every day doesn’t make him any better. We shouldn’t be celebrating how sophisticated our testing regimen is when we perform so poorly, and too many young people don’t graduate — or graduate lacking skills to reach their full potential in the job market.


Gelber isn’t alone as the love nest for high-stakes testing is getting smaller and is becoming localized in Tallahassee and billionaire funded think-tanks. Two dozen of the state’s 67 local school boards have passed resolutions on high-stakes testing. Rick Scott’s running around and telling everyone that FCAT is gone and that Common Core Standards are the new panacea. Too bad for Scott that folks will quickly figure out that those just mean more tests,  too.  Gelber’s onto the reality that not only is testing not teaching, but also that testing is not learning either.



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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