Anya Kamenetz is an education reporter for NPR and author of a new book on testing in U.S. schools.
Lots of people think there’s too much testing going on in schools right now. It’s one of the most contentious issues in education.
Lawmakers want to scale back the amount of time Florida students spend taking tests.
But at the same time, Florida is rolling out a new test tied to new math and language arts standards — known as Common Core.
NPR education reporter Anya Kamenetz researched the history and use of standardized exams for her book, “The Test.”
Kamenetz sat down with WLRN’s StateImpact Florida education reporter John O’Connor to talk about what students are losing — because of all the tests.
Q: What was your view on testing before you started work on the book and did it change at all during the course of reporting and writing it?
A: As I began to be an education reporter, first I was a higher education reporter. And I was very enthralled with, sort of, innovations in higher ed. And when I turned my attention to K-12, partly because I had a child of my own, I realized that there was very much less scope for, sort of, innovation in K-12.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Editor’s note: As schools around the country celebrate the Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday holiday, we’re reposting this essay from former South Florida teacher Jeremy Glazer about race in education.
Here’s a question:How do you teach a class of all black students in an all black school that Brown v. Board of Education ended segregation decades ago?
That isn’t a hypothetical question, but one I remember clearly asking myself. I was teaching American History for the first time in one of our nation’s many embarrassingly homogeneous schools. I could not, with a straight face, teach my students that segregation had ended. They’d think that either they or I didn’t know what the word segregation meant.
But, as a beginning teacher, I was afraid of telling too much truth. Brown’s legacy is not a hopeful story about law, or government, or progress, and it seemed like a particularly cruel lesson in power, racism, and injustice. I wanted to be both honest and gentle to my students and probably failed at both.
Florida schools pushed ahead with new Common Core-based math and language arts standards in every grade, despite rising opposition to Common Core across the country.
And education was a top issue during the governor’s race.
Barry University political scientist Sean Foreman sat down with StateImpact Florida to talk about what we learned in 2014, and what’s next in 2015?
Q: The big story this year was on testing, and we saw some – in at least one county kind of an open revolt against the statewide testing requirements. And we’re starting to hear legislative leaders talk about changing the requirements as well. What do you think is going to happen and what did we learn this year?
“What we’ve realized over the years is that peers can be very persuasive in a positive way and they can influence those that look like them,” said Risa Berrin, who started the program.
The school day is over at North Miami Beach High School. Most students have headed for the doors. But Diamante Sharpe and Erica Poitevien and about a dozen classmates are working on their lesson plans.
A parent asked us on Facebook: “Please find out for us parents of third graders, who face mandatory retention if they fail the new reading assessment this spring, how the state plans to deal with them. Will they return to 3rd grade after the cut scores are determined in Winter 2015?”
The bottom line: third graders can still be held back next year if they score the equivalent of a 1, out of 5, on the reading test. But those students are still eligible to to advance to fourth grade through one of state’s exemptions, including a portfolio or passing an alternative exam.
The math, reading and writing exam (reading and writing are combined as English language arts) is intended to measure how well students in third through eleventh grades understand Florida’s Common Core-based standards. The standards outline what students should know at the end of each grade.
We’ve pulled together the most important things to know about the new exam in this presentation. Click on the right or left side of the slide to advance or go back.
Some teachers say they believe too many tests are bad for students. Around the state, students, parents, teachers, superintendents and school boards are discussing how to voice their opposition to testing.
But is the classroom the right place to raise those questions? Educators disagree about the best way for teachers to speak up.