Putting Education Reform To The Test

Opting Out Of Testing Would Come At A Cost For Florida School Districts

Some Florida school boards are considering opting the entire district out of state testing to send a message.

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Some Florida school boards are considering opting the entire district out of state testing to send a message.

A handful of Florida districts are talking about skipping state-required tests this year, including the new Florida Standards Assessment replacing most of the FCAT.

Last week, Palm Beach County school board members said they wanted to send a message to state leaders by skipping the new exam. Earlier this month, Lee County school board members said they wanted to study the idea.

But the district better be prepared to pay the price of skipping the new exam — quite literally. Skip the exam and the state is likely to withhold money.

“The ramifications could be pretty dramatic for a district that wanted to do this,” says Florida Department of Education spokesman Joe Follick. “This is uncharted waters. No districts have done this.”

Follick added the state could withhold state funds, grants and lottery money. Lawmakers could decide on additional sanctions, he said. Most K-12 public school operations are funded through the state.

School board members say opting out an entire school district is unlikely.

“I believe in assessment,” Palm Beach school board member Karen Brill said last week. “I believe in testing that’s used for measurement, not punishment. I believe that we as a district need to research opting out from the new Florida Standard Assessments.

“Sometimes it takes an act of civil disobedience to move forward.”

Brill and other school leaders, teachers, parents and students have complained Florida has attached too many consequences to the results of state tests.

Results from Florida’s statewide test form the basis for the A-through-F grades issued to most public schools each year. Teachers are rated — and paid — based on the test results of their students. And some students are not allowed to advance a grade or graduate from high school unless they pass state tests.

Florida parents have organized and taught other parents how to opt their children out of testing, denying the use of those test results.

But Follick says many educators find the statewide test results valuable. He noted school districts trumpet positive results on the test.

“Students who are not having the opportunity to show what they have gained in a year of school are going to be at a disadvantage,” Follick says. “It’s going to be difficult for parents to know how well their student has done that year.

“I think when they weigh the pros and the cons I think they will understand this is definitely to the benefit of the students.”


  • Walking Man

    Looks like to me that the Good Old Boys who fear their sons and daughters may not pass this exam would find another way to remain in their hierarchical position.

  • ImaanMagazine

    I think opt’ing out is a great idea. If parents want to know how they child is doing in school, then be apart of the your child’s life. Build a relationship with the teachers, know what type of work your child is working on. Be apart of your child’s life. Those test are just test and are not geared towards the knowledge of all students. It like we are telling the students, what you learn in the classroom is not enough so….we have to make you take a Standarized test instead. Don’t get me wrong I understand the neeed for the test and the reason the test were created in the first place. But by whose standards are these test created for? I feel like these test are punishment for our students because if they do not perform well on the test-then they may not graduate or whatever punishment the school chooses. If a child is not doing well in school, how would a parent or teacher allow that child to go through 4 years of school knowing they needed additional help. Do not punish the child because the teaher and/or parents didn’t stand-up and get them additional help.
    Anyhow, I’m all for schools opt’ing out.

  • Lee Barrios

    Punitive consequences must stop. Parents can accomplish the end of HIGH STAKES standardized testing by opting out. Louisiana planning to join the movement.

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