Putting Education Reform To The Test

In New Ad, Gov. Rick Scott Says He’s Listening To Complaints About FCAT

Gov. Rick Scott has released a back-to-school message in the form of a Republican Party of Florida-sponsored ad.

In the as Scott says “listening to parents and teachers is still the best education” and is one reason he pushed to increase education funding by $1 billion.

But the second part of the ad is likely to rile some educators.

After a year marked by changes to the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test and the school and district grading systems — and errors with the new grades — Scott says he’s heard the complaints.

“I’ve listened to the frustrations parents and teachers have with the FCAT,” he says in the video. “Next year we begin improving our testing system. No more teaching to the test.”

Amid the controversy earlier this year, Scott said earlier this year that Florida may test students too much.

Now, Scott makes it sounds as if the next testing regimen, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, is a reaction to problems with the FCAT. Actually, the PARCC is part of the long-planned move to Common Core standards and assessments.

And though much of the FCAT will go away when PARCC is fully implemented in 2013, it doesn’t mean the end of testing in Florida schools.

Florida is also using end-of-course exams which test a student’s knowledge of algebra, biology, geometry or other subjects.

As the News Service of Florida reports, a teacher’s union spokesman says the ad is more about re-election than education:

“This video is a campaign ad designed to calm folks down about testing and a PR move to improve Scott’s image,” said Mark Pudlow, a spokesman for the Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teacher union, and a longtime critic of the FCAT. “And I think it’s designed to tamp down any chance that testing becomes an issue in legislative races.”

Even fellow Republicans acknowledge that Scott may be a bit late to the idea, but some say that’s OK.

Sen. Nancy Detert, the Republican who sponsored the bill phasing out the FCAT for a new “end-of-course” exam, said even if the idea has already left the station, it’s better for Scott to board late than not at all, because he can help sell the new testing scheme.

“We’re happy to have him on the train,” said Detert, of Venice.

What do you think of the ad?


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