Total Pageviews

Search This Blog

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

In Florida it is all about Privitization

From the Orlando Sentinel, by Rick Roach
The Sentinel Editorial Board is appalled that after 16 years of using the FCAT standardized test, the academic performance of Florida's kids remains basically flat ("Schools hit sour notes with FCAT swan song," June 22).
The board shouldn't be surprised. The explanation is on the Florida Department of Education's Website under "item difficulty." The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test has been designed to flunk a pre-set number of kids — from 40 percent to 50 percent.
And if, when all the tests are in, it's discovered that the test designers were off, there's a simple fix: The pass-fail minimum score can be moved up or down to get whatever failure rate officials want.
Why would they do that? A big reason is that if public schools can be made to look bad enough, the public will be willing to hand them over to privatization. It's always wise to follow the money.
Readers need to know that Orange County schools already use sophisticated software programs to track daily student progress, and if a particular instructional program isn't working, teachers do the common-sense thing: They switch programs.
Hard evidence of our success is available to those willing to look past political agendas and check the data for themselves. If more people were willing to do that, the foolishness would stop. And something else would happen: There would be more money for real education.
The Sentinel says, correctly, that "close to 33,000 students might be held back next year for failing to learn enough." Readers may be surprised to learn that a great many, maybe most, of those 33,000 third-graders are good students.
Recently, Laela, the daughter of one of my constituents, had an almost straight-A average for the year. But her FCAT score was one point shy of the minimum passing score, and she was sent back to repeat the third grade.
Should you care? If you pay taxes you certainly should, because every one of those 33,000 kids who repeats third grade costs about $11,000. Do the math, and it's clear we're talking real money, to do something that research says is a mistake — making kids repeat a grade instead of identifying and fixing their problems.
Laela was fortunate, however. With coaching, she proved herself on a benchmark test and went on to fourth grade.
Will a new test to replace FCAT help? Not if the political aim of making public schools look bad stays in place.
Judge "Rick" Roach is an Orange County School Board member for District 3.

No comments:

Post a Comment