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.


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