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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Incoming speaker Steve Crisafulli's willful chutzpah, ignorance and hypocrisy about testing.

The incoming speaker of the house Steve Crisafulli did an op in Florida Today where he advocated for Florida's culture of high stakes standardized tests which have faced withering criticism recently from local school boards and parents, i.e. those closest to the problem. I don't know what worried me most about Crisafulli's op ed, his ignorance, chutzpah, hypocrisy or his apparent disdain for teachers.

First the hypocrisy. Crisafulli is a huge supporter of vouchers. The public pays for students to go to private schools which are exempt from the high stakes test. Why are they a necessity for public schools but not for private schools that receive public money? 

Now for the ignorance. He says because of testing our graduation rates have gone up, well friends graduation rates all across the country have seen dramatic rises, even in states that have not relied on high stakes testing. He then points to the our ranking sixth in the Quality Rankings report. This is a fairly new group which pushes corporate reforms. Most knowledgeable people don't give it much credence but lets look at how we got that ranking.

We were 32nd in providing chances for success, 36th on school finances, and 5th on tests and accountability. In short our grade was so high because they like testing and Florida does too! 6th sounds impressive but if you go to the report and look at it, you would be hard pressed to be as impressed as the speaker designate. (note there are other categories)

Then there is his apparent disdain for teachers. He wrote: The recent misuse of the phrase “high-stakes tests” can be attributed to the fact the results are now high stakes for teachers. Starting this year, teachers are eligible for performance pay based in part on student progress. Teachers aren’t graded on a child’s ability to pass a test, but are rewarded for helping children make progress. We understand children come from different backgrounds and possess varying knowledge and skills, but every child can learn.

The state is using VAM scores to determine teachers effectiveness. The department of education says they are inaccurate more than a third of the time and yes children do come from different backgrounds but VAM scores don't account for poverty but somehow he thinks it is fair to measure teachers with this system. Then yes every child can learn but depriving schools of proper resources, and saddling teachers with inappropriate metrics makes it that much harder, 

Finally his chutzpah. Those people closest to our schools, the states parents and school boards have started a tsunami of protest but the designate who is not a teacher and as far as I can tell has had little interaction with them announces proudly that he knows best. I doubt he would be appreciative of teachers telling him how to run his agriculture business.  

I wish just once one of these guys would say, I just don't like public schools and I am going to do everything I can to privatize them. I would disagree with him but at least he would be being honest. 
Friends this is who is suppose to lead us for the next two years and I hope you are as troubled by this as I am.

1 comment:

  1. He also doesn't seem to know anything about VAM. Any VAM scores for the 2014-15 will be statistically invalid because most of the tests in Florida are new this year. The VAM algorithm predicts growth scores based on previous performance. Since these tests have never been given, there is no baseline from which to predict growth. I wrote to the FLDOE about this problem but have yet to receive a response.