Testing Students and Destroying Education
Ohanian Comment: Imagine a state department of education saying local schools must provide evidence that "students are cherished." Even more outlandish, imagine the Feds doing it.
By Rosanne Wood
The Florida Legislature, "Race to the Top" and the Florida Department of
Education seem to be following the questionable advice of "if it's worth
doing, it's worth overdoing."
They certainly have gone on a binge when it comes to standardized
testing. Never in my 37 years as an educator have I seen such a
misguided waste of time, energy and resources as the current Florida
Teachers and support staff haven't gotten a raise in six years, yet
companies such as NCS Pearson have gotten lucrative contracts to make
and score these tests and then sell programs to the schools to remediate
their students ($7 billion in sales nationally in 2011). Principals and
teachers spend their time and energy chasing the "school grade A-F
rabbit," which is intentionally programmed to go faster and faster so
that it never can be caught.
Too many kids passing the FCAT? Just tweak the scores so that thousands
will fail. Need more resources? Quit whining. Too many failures? Oops,
tweak the scores again. It's confusing to parents and students; it's
demoralizing to hard-working teachers and principals. Superintendent
Jackie Pons was right when he said, "We have been working hard to get
the wrong model right."
Yes, we should have high standards and, yes, we should have standardized
tests as one form of assessing progress. Why not pick a nationally
comparable test that measures the new national common core standards,
like the Stanford-10 for K-12, and ditch the rest? Unlike the FCAT, at
least you could see real progress across time instead of a constantly
moving target. The binge we're on now has resulted in a micromanaged,
test-driven school environment that hardly leaves time to teach.
Roseanne Wood is the former principal of Tallahassee's SAIL High School
INDEX OF NCLB OUTRAGES