Putting Education Reform To The Test

Miami Schools Chief: Selection Of New Test Is ‘Insufficient’

Miami-Dade school superintendent Alberto Carvalho speaks with Michel Martin, host of NPR's Tell Me More, in 2012.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Miami-Dade school superintendent Alberto Carvalho speaks with Michel Martin, host of NPR's Tell Me More, in 2012.

Miami-Dade schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho said the process by which Florida chose a new statewide exam was ‘insufficient’ and he questioned whether the test from the American Institutes for Research will be right for Florida. StateImpact Florida’s Sammy Mack caught up with Carvalho today.

In particular, Carvalho was concerned the exam would be field-tested in Utah — but not Florida — prior to use in Sunshine State schools.

“I don’t need to explain the differences between population diversity in Utah versus the state of Florida,” said Carvalho, who last month was named the national superintendent of the year by the School Superintendents Association. “So, I find it insufficient from a statistical perspective, from a fairness prospective and even, perhaps, a legal perspective with so much riding on this exam.”

Exam results contribute to everything from whether students are promoted to fourth grade from third grade or graduate high school, to teacher evaluations and pay and a school’s A-to-F grade.

Carvalho said AIR has a good reputation for research, but “there should be an expectation that the exam that’s selected would be field tested in the state of Florida.”

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said AIR presented the best test for Florida students among the five bids submitted. She has also said there is no need to filed test the exam in Florida prior to its use.

The test will be given for the first time in early 2015. Initially, the exam will license test items developed for Utah’s statewide assessment, but AIR would create completely Florida-specific items by 2016 testing.

The new test is needed to replace the FCAT because Florida is completing the switch to new K-12 math and language arts standards based on the Common Core State Standards fully adopted by Florida and 44 other states.

Carvalho isn’t alone in criticizing the test selection. Superintendents of Pasco County and Hillsborough County schools asked why Florida chose a test which would not allow the state to compare the results of its students against those in other states.


  • why

    Superintendent Carvalho is on target. The Florida Department of Education is going to construct a new test using statistics from item “try-outs” in Utah (with a totally different population of students) and then with the spring results they are going to use linking to set the cut score at the same percentage passing as this year. This is really not acceptable because there will be no evidence of how these two tests correlate to each other. Sure, you can link anything you want but it doesn’t mean the scores mean the same thing or the students are ordered in the same way unless you have evidence to show they are strongly related. So, even if students actually do better on this new exam, the percentage passing will be constrained to the same percentage passing as this year. Legislators should prohibit the use of scores during the first year until the DOE can actually demonstrate how all of the technical requirements of implementing a new assessment system will be met. Simply linking one year to the next without consideration of the test content and appropriate field testing is not acceptable. In addition, school districts are saying that they have not had adequate time to implement the standards which is evidence of a lack of instructional validity. These are the arguments opponents should be making. The validity of the test and the reliability of the future scores is uncertain for next year.

  • Tom James

    Vote out Scott in November so we can run Jeb and his turds out of Tally!

  • Carlos Gonzalez

    Just as FCAT failed public education, the new test will do the same. Politics and greed have destroyed public education.

  • Dianalynn

    Superintendent Alberto Carvalho is totally on the mark, no need to say more. Too much tax money for an unproven test, totally ridiculous measure of what is going on in our schools! We do need accountability, unlike what Mr. James touts, but let’s get it right. We employ the people, we need to develop our own, No one wants to engage with Florida after so much education turmoil!

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