From Leslie Postal and Dan Sweeney in the Sun Sentinel:
Utah students took their state’s new Common Core tests this spring, and they struggled so badly that a majority of Utah schools could end up graded D or F.
Despite the more than 2,000 miles that separate the two states, what happened in Utah could resonate in Florida. This spring, Sunshine State students also will be taking Common Core standardized tests filled with questions from Utah’s exams.
Plenty of Florida educators and parents are already concerned Florida hasn’t given schools enough time to prepare students for tough new tests, which will replace most of the FCAT — the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. The Utah results only add to those worries.
Floridians are faced with far too many unknowns on the new tests from the American Enterprise Institute. Orlando teacher Keri Watte shared some of the runaround she’s been getting from AIR and Rick Scott’s Department of Education in the Orlando Sentinel:
A colleague and I decided to look to Utah for answers, since, for $39 million, AIR is providing Utah Core Standards tests. I was thrilled to find practice tests for the Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence exam. A new resource. My excitement, however, soon turned to laughter as the discovery became crystal clear: Our practice test was the carbon copy of the practice test provided by AIR to Utah for its SAGE test. Doesn’t $220 million at least get us another sample set of test questions? Or is this money just being pooled and our students will be given the same test as schools in Utah, on the taxpayers’ dime?
My conversations with the Department of Education and AIR continue to replay in my head. How long is the test? We’re not really sure yet. What types of passages will students have to read? We’re not really sure. Why can’t we see samples? They’re coming soon — maybe. Will the public ever see these tests? Confidentiality hasn’t been determined yet, but generally the tests are for students’ eyes only. Are third-graders going to be testing for six hours? I don’t have that answer. Why can’t we get more sample passages and test items? They haven’t been demanded by the public.
Yet Scott’s DOE commissioner Pam Stewart insists the new tests part of a “truly historic effort to help your children succeed.” Stewart’s willingness to spin something nobody knows gives further discredit to Scott’s record on education.