"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Let the Sun Shine In

The sunshine state once again takes on a whole new meaning as a full-scale scandal breaks out over the Florida FCAT scoring debacle. State Senate Democratic leader Lesley Miller Jr. and Sen. Walter Campbell sued this week for the information under Florida's open records law. It's only a matter of time before parents, teachers and the general public wake up to the truth about the testing industry scam plaguing American public schools from coast to coast.

While there are those who would rather play pretend, like the Sun-Sentinel editorial board along with big brother and little brother Bush that the FCAT scandal is going away, others are more sanguine about the prospects of their magic tricks blowing up in their face.

One editorial writer at the Palm Beach Post is even a little giddy about the FCAT scandal and has a great idea:

From the moment it became public knowledge that the precious FCAT essays were being graded by $10-an-hour Kelly girls, it was over. There is going to be a scandal over this. It's just a matter of time. Right now, we're in the pretending-it-will-go-away phase. This is a particularly annoying Bush family trait.

The state Department of Education has pretended to be uninterested in knowing whether the people grading the FCAT — the hub that the wheel of public education rolls on — are actually qualified.

Lawmakers raising that question have, so far, been told it's none of their business.
The all-important job has been farmed out to a private contractor, in this case CTB/McGraw-Hill of California. And that company hires temporary help to grade the tests.

CATs and DOGs working together
So I've got a better idea. Why not get ahead of this disaster before it happens?
Gov. Jeb Bush can accomplish that with a smartly executed shifting of direction, announcing that upon further reflection, it might not be a bad idea to ensure the integrity of the FCAT grading.
And there's only one good way to do that.

The FDOG — the Florida Documentation of Graders.

That's right, a brand new form of statewide standardized testing, a test that will measure the academic competence of the people grading the FCAT.
Without an FDOG, there's no good way to measure the competence of the graders. And shouldn't that be where standardized testing starts?

And just like the FCAT, test takers who do well on the FDOG will be given incentives such as higher pay. It will, over time, give Florida an increasingly more qualified set of test graders, and on the flip side, the state will have a way to weed out underperforming test graders who can't pass the FDOG.

Over time, the A plus, plus, plus, plus, plus, plus system of evaluating graders will produce unassailable FCAT grading — and demonstrate, in a new way, the pure magic of standardized testing.
Yes, pure magic.

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