Florida’s High School Seniors: Our Ill-Served FCAT Generation

The wonderful high school seniors for whom Florida teachers have gained great affection will be  walking the halls of state schools  for just a few more days. They do so with a sad, knowing smile of what the last few days – and last months have already been about. Since February, the school they love, rich in its own unique,nurturing culture and a place where learning and accomplishment take place, have been testing centers.  The last of the FCAT kids who needed to pass a reading and math test during their sophomore year have not been served by the test-dominated accountability measures which  Jeb Bush-led republican legislative have imposed on them. Consider this from WFSU reporter Lynn Hatter:

Florida high school seniors continue to struggle in math and reading, according to the latest report from the National Assessment of Education Progress, or NAEP.

NAEP is often referred to as the nation’s report card and the latest report shows high schoolers across the nation are doing no better today than they did four years ago. The same goes for Florida, which was one of 13 states where 12th grade students took NAEP’s reading and math tests. It’s a trend experts say is problematic…….

According to the report card, students who took more advanced classes did better than those who didn’t and students who said they liked reading did better than those who do not. Nineteen percent of Florida 12th graders were proficient in math compared to 26 percent nationwide.  Some 36 percent of Florida students were proficient in reading compared to 38 percent nationally.  The disparity in scores between white and minority students in Florida also did not change, but the achievement gap is smaller than the national average.

Emphasis mine; and what’s embolden serves as a “you don’t say.” But for the rest, FCAT’s accountability was supposed to raise the bar and it obviously hasn’t. But the establishment’s explanations are predictable: Blame teachers and boy, do we ever need Common Core.

It’s the teacher’s fault:

NAEP Board member Dale Nowlin says it’s important to look and whether students are engaged in the classroom, and the difficulty of what they’re being taught.

“Do all students have access to high level classes? And then not just do they have access to high level classes, go deeper than just the title of the course, and find out are they actually teaching the curriculum as it’s meant to be taught.

We really should have been doing those close-read texts in Common Core lessons:

“Are we asking students to read more challenging texts? Are we asking them to read a coherent selection of texts so they learn from the text,” Asked Susan Pimentel, founding partner of the nonprofit Student Achievement Partners. ” Are students being asked to explain and talk about the texts they’re reading in class, because if the students say they’re not, and they’re scoring a lot lower, I would want to make sure my own school—something would be changing here.”

Meanwhile, national democrat and republican politicians alike dare not challenge the wisdom of the Bush Florida miracle where the solution to his failure with Florida’s graduating seniors is  different tests and doubling down with test-driven VAM data to evaluate teachers. Oh, and Common Core, too. We just don’t call it Common Core around here.



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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3 Responses to Florida’s High School Seniors: Our Ill-Served FCAT Generation

  1. JupiterMom says:

    When will it be enough evidence? When will they stop “doubling down”? I hate to say it but it will take voters going to the polls and voting these bums out.

  2. Brenda says:

    Our legislators are too far removed from the classroom to make good decisions. As a teacher, I’m sick of being blamed for poor scores. There is no accountability for bad parenting or low classroom participation from students. There are so many problems in education right now, but making third graders read at a fifth grade level is not going to help our low readers. It will only make them more frustrated.

  3. And when will someone speak about about the garbage curriculum that is used. Whole word and more whole word as intervention when whole word in whole group doesn’t work. And let’s teach a million math concepts early in education so that so kids will struggle with even the smallest calculations and count on their fingers instead of developing any number sense. I am sick and tired of it all. I am a private tutor and a teacher’s assistant, and I have saved so many kids this year by using explicit phonics to teach them to read. 55 sight words and reading at a level 4 to pass K is ridiculous, and so now we label them at 5 and 6 yrs old.
    Sorry for the rant. 😦

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