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

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lee County, FL School Board Pledges to Research Opting Out Entire District

From News-Press.com:
FCAT. Florida Standards. Common core.

No matter what you call it, the school board wants it gone.

Board members unanimously expressed their disdain for standardized testing at the school board meeting Tuesday, pledging to research the possibility of "opting out" the entire district from standardized testing.

"There needs to be a come-to-Jesus meeting ... to talk about these issues point blank," Chairman Tom Scott said.

Board member Don Armstrong said the district cannot afford to continue testing at the current rate.

"A lot of our money is being poured out of this county to go to one company, I won't say names," he said. "But on this board or not on this board, I won't stand for it anymore."

Dozier asked the board to vote to "opt out" the entire district from testing. Some school districts have done this in Texas, but none in Florida.

"Why can't we be the first?" Dozier asked, prompting an applause in the audience.

Board members Mary Fischer and Cathleen Morgan voiced similar concerns.

"State assessments have been designed for kids to fail," Fischer said. "I've worked in school since 1960. Just follow the money, look it up on the Internet, it's about people making billions of dollars.
Scott urged the public to get involved.

"This is your school district, and the more parents making noise, the more likely people are going to hear it in Tallahassee," he told the audience. "I ask everyone here to find 10 other people who feel the way you do and start making some noise."

Superintendent Nancy Graham said the board should carefully research the possible ramifications of opting out.

"I'm not saying we can't do it, but we need to think about these things purposefully and intentionally," she said.

Three moms in attendance from the group Teaching Not Testing echoed the board's sentiment.
Tess Brennan, the mother of a second-grader, said her daughter can usually read at a fifth-grade reading level. But when her daughter missed answering three questions on an exam to take a bathroom break, it significantly hurt her overall score.

"She missed three questions because she had to poop," Brennan told the board. "It took three weeks to convince my child that she can still read. She can. She can devour a 100-page book in 45 minutes."

Relieving some of that testing pressure off students — and relieving the subsequent financial strain on the district — is one of the legislative goals for the upcoming year, said district lobbyist Bob Cerra.

Some of those efforts include allowing the district more flexibility in testing schedules, requiring the state to cover all testing costs and rejecting all unfunded state mandates.

"If they want to do it, they can pay for it," Cerra said.

Growing resistance to testing in Southwest Florida reflects many attitudes nationwide. Legislators in Texas passed a law in 2013 to sharply reduce the amount of standardized testing.

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