Florida Standardized Testing

Florida Senator Says It is Too Late to Stop Use of Flawed Tests

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Angry parents and educators bombarded Senator Legg, chair of the Senate Education Committee in Florida, with 45,000 letters, complaining about the state’s standardized tests. Kathleen Oporeza of Fund Education Now spurred the protests by pointing out that the tests had so many problems that the results were invalid and should not be used to grade schools or teachers.

She wrote:

“There isn’t a Florida student, parent, teacher, superintendent, board member or administrator who doesn’t see through this charade. Superintendents from Leon to Miami-Dade have expressed their deep concerns. The study’s own numbers point out that just 65 percent of the test items match the Florida Standards. It concludes that it would be wrong to retain students or deny diplomas based on the 2015 FSA, yet Commissioner Stewart plans to use these same flawed test results to set pass/fail cut scores, grade schools and evaluate teachers. It’s fundamentally unfair to punish teachers and grade schools based on scores where 35 percent of the test items were never taught to Florida students.

“Put another way, if a student answered every question based on the Florida standards correctly, he would receive a 65 or a D letter grade. It’s hard to reconcile this poor finding with Commissioner Stewart’s glowing reaction to the study. Who or what is she trying to protect?”

Senator Legg responded to protestors, claiming it was too late and there was nothing he could do. Apparently in Florida, the Legislature can pile on tests, but it can’t reduce them or prevent their misuse.

Jessica Bakeman of Politico wrote:

“TALLAHASSEE — A key state senator said Thursday it’s time to stop harping on the problems that arose during state standardized testing earlier this year because there’s little the Legislature can do to fix it now anyway.

“Sen. John Legg, who chairs the chamber’s pre-kindergarten to 12th grade education committee, said it’s not worth entertaining district leaders’ push for education officials to withhold school grades after cyber attacks and technical glitches disrupted state testing for thousands of students.

“Legg, a Republican from Lutz, believes results from the state’s controversial new exams are valid for use in evaluating schools’ performance. But even if they weren’t, he said, lawmakers wouldn’t be able to stop the Department of Education from assigning school grades.”

Florida may be the testing Capitol of the nation. But no one can stop this train wreck.

Oporeza wrote:

“After decades of micro-managing public education, Legg claims “there’s nothing the legislature can do.” He goes on to assert that they are “unable to stop” Commissioner Pam Stewart and the Department of Education from setting pass/fail cut scores, issuing school grades or using the flawed scores to evaluate teachers. Legg’s comment lacks credibility. He knows Stewart is an unelected political appointee with an ardent penchant for rule following. The FSA testing mess was wholly created by the Florida Legislature. Period.

“During the Senate hearing, politicians were dogmatic about preserving the political agenda of “ed reform.” Even though the EdCount/Alpine study team will not deem the FSA 100% “valid,” committee members said any discussion of alternatives is useless. Looking for a better way, such as using limited standardized tests only as transparent diagnostic tools would destroy Florida’s A-F Accountability scheme. Reformers know that without high stakes there would be no classroom fear or chaos. There would be no leverage to use against us.”

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