From Miami Herald reporter Kathleen McGrory:
For months, school superintendents have been asking the state to slow down the transition to new standards, statewide exams and accountability measures.
On Thursday, the CEO of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents (a.k.a. Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee) put that request into a formal legislative proposal.
The bill, SB 1368, seeks to ease Florida school districts into the new accountability system.
There’s a lot going on. Districts must fully transition to the new education benchmarks known as the Florida Standards by next year. The state Department of Education expects to introduce new, computer-based state tests at that time, too. (The exams have yet to be selected.)
What’s more, the department is in the middle of rolling out a new performance-pay program for teachers.
Many educators worry they won’t be prepared to teach and test the new standards by next year. And superintendents are concerned they won’t have accesss to the technology needed for computer-based testing.
Montford’s proposal would push the timeline back by three years. It would suspend the controversial school grading system until 2017-18, though schoolwide student performance data would still be reported publicly.
The bill would also modify the teacher evaluation system during the transition.
“The proposed legislation establishes a transition accountability system,” Montford wrote in a statement. “It ensures that all of e Six the elements are in place –- standards, assessments, instructional materials, technology, and a fair teacher evaluation system — before high stakes are imposed on students, teachers and schools.”
Rep. Joe Saunders (D-Orlando) is filling the companion bill in the House.
Looks like this year’s legislation session will have more edu-drama than Rick Scott cares see on his desk prior to facing voters this fall. With Sen. Greg Evers (R-Milton) filing a bill yesterday to block Common Core, its clear that the independent republican “Senate Six” won’t be rubber-stamping leadership’s education policy agenda. Says a skeptical ate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) on Montford-Saunders:
“I don’t mean to be flip about it, but I would be in favor of suspending measuring academic achivement when we take down the scoreboards on the football fields in Florida and we take down the scoreboards in the basketball gyms,” he told the Herald/Times last week. “And since we’re not going to do that, since we think it is important enough to keep track of who has made a first down … I think it’s at least as important to keep track of how well students are doing, what’s working and what’s not working in terms of teaching strategies, and why and how and when we would adjust those strategies to make sure children do better.”
Golly. Don’t you think that Gaetz could have done a little better than pulling out Tony Bennett’s old scoreboard? He knows that “how well students are doing, what’s working and what’s not working in terms of teaching strategies” were done long before we had Jeb Bush’s tests and school grades along with Rick Scott’s VAM. To be fair, some of the new apparatuses in place now suits what Gaetz finds most important. Too bad the republican agenda had been to find “failing schools” to replace with charter schools and “bad teachers” to fire with test scores.
As Gaetz said last year that Florida’s entire accountability system was “in danger of imploding,” one would think he would welcome pause. Floridians are weary of the uncertain drama that has come with yearly formula changes and tweaks. Never mind moving the bar. Gaetz’ party has presided over a regime which moves the bar after everyone jumps, then changes the scores for political expediency after they land.