PBC School Board signs onto resolution opposing over-reliance on high-stakes testing
It is indeed good news when a resolution such as this one against high-stakes testing is embraced by a school board.
Three cheers for Chuck Shaw.
Go, Rita Solnet!
And everybody else.
Go to the url below and voice your support.
by Allison Ross
The Palm Beach County School Board today adopted a resolution denouncing the over-reliance on high-stakes standardized tests like the FCAT.
Board members say they've received many complaints from parents, students and teachers who say the emphasis on testing puts too much stress on students and interferes with class time and instruction.
The national resolution the board adopted is modeled after one that more than 360 school boards in Texas have signed, according to a website set up for that resolution. It was released by a coalition of parent, education and civil rights groups.
Board member Chuck Shaw said Palm Beach County and the six other large urban districts in Florida make up about 70 percent of the state's entire student population.
"If we get together and take a stand, the state would have to do this," he said. "The time is right."
The resolution asks that the state reexamine public school accountability systems and develop a system that does not require extensive standardized testing, but rather multiple forms of assessment. It also calls on the federal government to reduce the number of testing mandates in the No Child Left Behind Act and "not mandate any fixed role for the use of student test scores in evaluating educators."
"I'm all for high standards," Gent told school board members. "But we also need to make sure we're not creating robots, and folks where we take away their creativity."
Rita Solnet, a Boca Raton parent activist and one of the founding members of Parents Across America, lauded the school board's decision. She said Palm Beach County is the first Florida school district to sign the national petition.
"I am very proud of my district and (Superintendent) Gent for their courageous step," Solnet wrote in a text message this afternoon.
Debra Wilhelm, the county's teachers union president, also applauded the school board's decision to sign onto the resolution. "Testing shouldn't create consternation and panic for students the way the FCAT does," she said. Wilhelm said she hopes that now that Palm Beach County has signed on, that the resolution "spreads through the districts like wildfire."
The school board spoke out against the amount of high-stakes testing in the state earlier this month during a school board meeting. At that time, school board member Karen Brill said the FCATs are so stressful that "students are so upset and anxious, they're losing their hair, they're not eating, theyÃ¢€™re not sleeping."
It's unclear how far the movement to limit the use of high-stakes testing will get in Florida. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Florida's education commissioner does not seem too keen on rolling back testing anytime soon.
Below is the text of the resolution:
WHEREAS, our nationÃ¢€™s future well-being relies on a high-quality public education system that prepares all students for college, careers, citizenship and lifelong learning, and strengthens the nationÃ¢€™s social and economic well-being; and
WHEREAS, our nation's school systems have been spending growing amounts of time, money and energy on high-stakes standardized testing, in which student performance on standardized tests is used to make major decisions affecting individual students, educators and schools; and
WHEREAS, the over-reliance on high-stakes standardized testing in state and federal accountability systems is undermining educational quality and equity in U.S. public schools by hampering educatorsÃ¢€™ efforts to focus on the broad range of learning experiences that promote the innovation, creativity, problem solving, collaboration, communication, critical thinking and deep subject-matter knowledge that will allow students to thrive in a democracy and an increasingly global society and economy; and
WHEREAS, it is widely recognized that standardized testing is an inadequate and often unreliable measure of both student learning and educator effectiveness; and
WHEREAS, the over-emphasis on standardized testing has caused considerable collateral damage in too many schools, including narrowing the curriculum, teaching to the test, reducing love of learning, pushing students out of school, driving excellent teachers out of the profession, and undermining school climate; and
WHEREAS, high-stakes standardized testing has negative effects for students from all backgrounds, and especially for low-income students, English language learners, children of color, and those with disabilities; and
WHEREAS, the culture and structure of the systems in which students learn must change in order to foster engaging school experiences that promote joy in learning, depth of thought and breadth of knowledge for students; therefore be it
RESOLVED, that the School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, calls on Governor Scott, the Florida Department of Education and the state legislature to reexamine public school accountability systems in this state, and to develop a system based on multiple forms of assessment which does not require extensive standardized testing, more accurately reflects the broad range of student learning, and is used to support students and improve schools; and
RESOLVED, that the School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, calls on the U.S. Congress and Administration to overhaul the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, currently known as the "No Child Left Behind Act," reduce the testing mandates, promote multiple forms of evidence of student learning and school quality in accountability, and not mandate any fixed role for the use of student test scores in evaluating educators.
Palm Beach Post blog
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