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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

FCAT, children's futures tied to one test

From the Tampa Times, by Jeff Solochek

Florida's annual FCAT testing time is right around the corner. Stress levels rise for many children and teachers as their futures are increasingly tied to the test results.

Should they just say no?

A coalition of teachers around the country is saying that the value of testing is not as it once was, as states use the exams for many purposes other than evaluating and improving student learning and teacher instruction. They're urging a boycott.

"Our kids are stressed out," Miami-Dade teacher Ceresta Smith told the Miami Herald. "And when they graduate, they aren't college ready. The only people who are benefitting from the tests are the corporations that are making big financial profits."

Florida's testing program is mandatory in law. But the law says nothing about families opting out.

Of course school leaders frown upon the idea, because they're held accountable for participation in addition to performance. But is this perhaps another way for parents and educators to band together and let the state know how they feel about high-stakes testing? Even former Pinellas School Board member Mary Russell talked of a boycott back in 2003.

Is it time to renew the idea.

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