Despite complaints from School Superintendents, teachers and parents, the state says new statewide testing that begins Monday will count toward school grades and teacher evaluations. This is not the first time testing changes have been an issue.
The Florida Student Assessment test replaces the FCAT this year. Some testing begins as early as Monday. And despite calls from school superintendents, the teachers union, and parents, Education Commission Pam Stewart says the new tests will count toward school grades.
“I believe that without a doubt they are ready. So it’s important that we measure their progress” say Stewart.
Holding the line on testing has proven embarrassing for the state in the past. In 2011, 81 percent of the students statewide passed the FCAT writing test. A year later, after changes in how the test was graded, just 27 percent passed the test.
As a result, the state Board of Education held an emergency hearing, changed the grading scale, and kept hundreds of schools from failing.
Then Commissioner Gerard Robinson defended the re-scoring. “I wouldn’t describe it as eating crow. I would describe it as a process that the board and myself took a look at data.”
Now, educators are raising similar alarms over the switch from a paper test to a computer based assessment. Kurt Browning is the Pasco County School Superintendent.
“Addition, subtraction, multiplication, subtraction signs, you’ve got to click on these. It’s not like you just take a pencil and write the sign and do the math. Ah, so it is….the whole keyboarding piece is something our students are not familiar with” says Browning.
The current commission is sticking to her guns. We’re ready, the test is ready. But the real answer won’t be know until the tests are ready” says Stewart.
But the real answer won’t be know until the tests are graded.
This springs test results will be ready in early summer. The changing of test criteria in 2012 forced the state to set up a hot line for parents. On its first day, more than 250 parents called with concerns.