Putting Education Reform To The Test

Florida School Board Members Say Education Commissioner Challenged Their Authority

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Some Florida school board members are upset at comments by education commissioner Gerard Robinson. The Florida School Boards Association approved a resolution opposing the current use of FCAT Thursday.

Florida school board members say education commissioner Gerard Robinson issued a threat to local control during a lunchtime speech Thursday at the state association meeting in Tampa.

Robinson told the Florida School Boards Association members they were free to oppose the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, but they were not free to ignore state law or Florida Board of Education decisions.

The group later approved a resolution opposing the current use of the FCAT to asses student, teacher, school and district performance.

Robinson made a similar statement in an earlier interview with StateImpact Florida.

“They can express their opinion,” he said. “But let’s also remember the local school board’s obligation is to implement the laws approved by the Florida Legislature; to implement the regulations approved by the state board.”

School board members — elected locally — took exception to the appointed Robinson’s words.

“If there’s anything that probably was the clearest message for me over the last couple of days was the commissioner’s comments that were made today,” said Palm Beach County school board member Charles Shaw. “Because for the first time in my career I saw somebody who’s representing the state of Florida challenging the authority of school boards to make decisions and essentially telling all of us – the residents of the state of Florida – that we have to follow the rules that they set out.”

Leon County school board chairman DeeDee Rasmussen said Robinson’s comments show the issues school board members and the state agency have talking to each other about FCAT.

“We don’t have any intention of not upholding the law or the constitution of the state of Florida,” she said. “But for our Florida Department of Education not to be willing to listen to the concerns from parents, and students and school board members all across the state of Florida? We have a problem. We have a communication problem, we have a messaging problem.

Rasmussen said the anti-FCAT resolution might allow school board members to vent their frustrations before regrouping to work on an alternative while the state heads toward new, national Common Core standards and testing.

“I think we all need to step back and take a big deep breath – maybe put a moratorium on the FCAT for some bit of time,” she said. “Unfortunately it seems to have come down to a bit of a fight if you will between local government…and the Florida Department of Education.”

Robinson said none of the alternatives he heard so far would meet Florida curriculum requirements. That includes swapping in such nationally recognized tests as the SAT in place of the FCAT.

The Legislature and state board of education have repeatedly showed their support for the FCAT and Florida’s school accountability system, he said.

The reason? Results.

“If you take a look at where students have performed in math, reading, writing as well and other subjects, we’ve been moving in the right direction for over a decade,” he said. “That didn’t happen overnight. That happened because we set accountability and assessments are in place.”


  • Bob Valiant

    Results?  Is that why the results are constantly adjusted to get the “just right” number of passes?  The results of FCAT prove nothing because the test is flawed, doesn’t measure true learning, and has more negative consequences than positive.

    • Demetriusphilde

      If they can ajust the the result to a passing grade, they can ajust it in areas to have failing grades

  • I totally agree with Bob………….. My daughter couldn’t get above a 1 on the Math FCAT, she will be a senior in the fall but she got the concordant score on the Math portion of the ACT and now does not need the FCAT to graduate. How in the world can she accomplish that on the ACT and not the FCAT???

    There is something definitely wrong with the FCAT!!

    • Demetriusphilde

      The problem could be with the folks grading the test.

      •  That many problems? I say throw the test away and go back to learning and real teaching, not teaching to the test!!!

        Yes, my daughter is an ESE student who has always been mainstreamed, BUT the FCAT is made to confuse even the “normal” kids.

        GET RID OF THE FCAT!!!!!

  • TaxpayingBusinessWoman

    Commissioner Robinson said:  
    “If you take a look at where students have performed in math, reading, writing as well and other subjects, we’ve been moving in the right direction for over a decade,” he said. “That didn’t happen overnight. That happened because we set accountability and assessments are in place.”

    Is he kidding?  Amid a history of testing errors and flawed scoring practices and cheating scandals and lowering passing grades and curving the grades we moved in a downward spiral.

    That is not quality education.  That is gaming the system.

  • Edwardj361

    The reason is $’s for testing and test prep companies. The scores or “bar” is adjusted at the whim of the legislature or Jeb’s little fun group I mean foundation. The scores are games to suit whatever political games need to ne played that particular year.

  • Iwantmyeducation

    My school is one of the top ranking Florida schools, especially in Palm Beach County. How? We are encouraged to skip vital classes (honors, etc.) and pushed into classes with standardized tests. My mental stability has decreased and so has my IQ level. I wish I knew how to shift the education paradigms, but, alas, I’m only 16.

  • highschoolkid
  • Stephreads

    Vote them out – they’ll hear that message. The politicians who listen can stay. The one who appointed Robinson should go. As should the rest of the ones who are afraid to stand up to him because they’ll lose their precious party endorsement.

  • Parents, teachers, common core standards is the way to go. Our states have permeable borders and much better to have a brain gain than brain drain.

  • Chris Q

    Common Core must be stopped now! This is WAY worse than the FCAT!

    1 Standards are lower than Florida now has. Experts say that graduates would have 7th grade level in ELA and would be at least 2 years behind in math.
    2 Education without representation- no school board or state legislator voted for this. The Federal Government and trade groups created the standards which are copyrighted. Where do you go to make changes?
    3 Extensive and intrusive data mining will be shared with government and others without parental permission
    4 Religious schools, private schools, charter schools and home schools will all be force into the Common Core curriculum as all testing will be aligned to CC.
    5 No budget has been presented for the implementation and ongoing costs and estimates are now at more than 16 billion nationally just to get it going.

    See this web site for all the facts: http://www.stopcommoncorefl.com and come join in the fight for our kids!

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