Putting Education Reform To The Test

Pop Quiz: Will The Florida School Boards Association Support An Anti-Testing Resolution?

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School boards representing 1 in 4 Florida public school students have asked for less emphasis on FCAT results..

Schools boards representing more than one out of every four Florida students have approved a resolution asking state education leaders put less emphasis on standardized tests.

And the Florida School Boards Association could take up a similar resolution at a Tampa meeting tomorrow, giving the national effort another boost.

A dozen Florida districts have approved a national anti-testing resolution. Those districts include large counties such as Broward and Palm Beach — the nation’s 6th and 11th largest. Pinellas County joined the list earlier this week.

Those districts educate more than 750,000 Florida public school students in total.

That’s according to an analysis by FairTest, a national group which opposes the misuse of standardized tests to assess students.

“These are big, big districts that are standing up and saying ‘enough is enough’ in terms of the overtesting that has taken over our schools and has not improved educational quality,” said Bob Schaeffer, public education director for FairTest.

The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test and other standardized exams have come under fire as the federal No Child Left Behind law, which emphasized the tests, eclipsed its 10th anniversary.

Hundreds of Texas school districts have approved the anti-testing resolution (read a version here), most of which ask that less emphasis be placed on the test results. The resolutions also ask state leaders to emphasize other ways to evaluate students.

Florida supporters found more fuel when the passage rate on a state writing test plunged this spring following changes to the exam.

Advocates argue the tests provide valuable data and force schools and districts to confront their shortcomings — or face consequences for failing to do so. Florida supporters, such as former Gov. Jeb Bush, point to the Sunshine State climbing national education rankings and improved student performance — particularly minorities.

Schaeffer said he and others who support the anti-testing resolution still don’t know when a vote might come up at the Florida School Boards Association meeting. Some school boards have balked at the idea.

“It seems likely that the state school boards association will take a stand against the overuse of high-stakes tests,” Schaeffer said. “The precise language of that is unknown…We recognize that it will need to be adapted in some places to respect local concerns and issues.”

“I have no way to forecast what the votes will be if it come up for the vote.”


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