Our Florida State and Federal legislators claim we must hold schools accountable for results so that they, the government, can cost justify the expense of education to the taxpayers. Since 1985, they have increased their emphasis on testing, culminating in No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top and Common Core.
Well, let’s see how that is working, exactly. We have over 40 years of information shown on the CATO Institute chart showing the dramatic escalation of costs, while test scores have actually declined:
Most logical people would conclude that increased spending on federal government programs has not been an effective tool to increase the effectiveness of our schools. Logic is not all that common in government, however, and government programs don’t shut down just because they aren’t working.
This is especially evident in Florida, where testing now absorbs nearly 40% of class time available for learning, and billions of dollars are being spent on Florida State Assessments and Common Core. These assessments are proprietary, however, and do not provide any comparison to other states; so much for accountability.
When actual, nationally normed tests are used to compare Florida’s students, year over year, to other states, we find the troubling truth. The ACT is such a test and this how Florida’s students measure up over the last 20 years. We are now a dismal 47th in the U.S.:
I attended our Lee County School Board meeting where members were barraged with community complaints and tried to weigh options for the onerous burdens of the new bill, HB7069, recently signed into law by Governor Scott. Similar discussions are being held at all school boards throughout the state.
The State bullies ignored the declining results reported by nationally normed ACT tests since 1998 and doubled down to erode accountability, reduce class time for learning, cede control to the state, dramatically increase cost, and endanger our children’s privacy rights. They kept Common Core Curriculum and High Stakes Testing in place.
Let’s lay out the facts:
1.) We don’t have the money to pay for schools to house our kids and yet the State wants us to build, maintain and update elaborate and expensive computer testing facilities.
2.) The state wants us to pay about $34 per test for required state tests.
3.) The tests are not validated and scores won’t be available until the middle of the next school year, yet the state wants them to be 30% of the student scores on end of course tests. This means no report cards could be issued or decisions reached about student progress plans this year.
4.) The FSA tests have disgracefully and repeatedly crashed, causing delays and confusion all over the state. Starts and restarts themselves invalidate results. Crashes were caused by the vendor, AIR, which was paid $220 Million to create and deliver this product. No information has been presented from the state about recouping the millions of dollars schools lost in the crashes.
5.) The tests will take about 9 days of student time if there was no conflict with sharing of computers. Under current computer availability management, students are losing up to 40% of their class time to testing and delays.
6.) We don’t see the test questions to see if they are appropriate or accurate and can’t use them to inform students.
7.) Students taking tests on computers are being unfairly and inaccurately measured through the prism of their keyboarding skills, not their actual knowledge.
8.) We know our children’s information is being data mined when they take tests on computers.
9.) We have not been given any reason why tests must be given on computer.
10.)Pencil and paper tests are available to measure our students’ progress.
- They are MUCH less expensive
- They never crash
- It is difficult or impossible for the corporate cronies to data mine paper tests.
- Students can take them at their own desks without delays and confusion.
- Pencil and paper tests fairly represent the student’s knowledge, not their computer skills.
- Tests can be reviewed for accuracy and validity, and shared with teachers to inform instruction.
Given these facts it is clear. Parents, teachers and local districts do not need the federal or state government to tell us how to educate our kids. Our teachers are certified and the schools are accredited. The STATE is NOT. We need to restore local control by following this simple, “Common Sense, not Common Core” plan.
- Select from the best “off the shelf”standards which are available for free and not copyrighted
- Restore portfolio grading and eliminate high stakes tests
- Test on paper to reduce expense, eliminate data mining, and add back as much as 40% class time for learning
It’s a simple plan that will reduce bureaucracy, complexity, costs and inefficiency. Tools to implement this are immediately available and are not copyrighted. Our students will thrive in this environment and educational freedom will result in excellence.
Share this with your local school board now.