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Saturday, October 4, 2014

Florida's testing system is spinning out of control!

A round up of the weeks stories as Florida's testing system unravels.

Utah flames and burns on Common Core tests.

Utah students took their state's new Common Core tests this spring, and they struggled so badly that a majority of Utah schools could end up graded D or F. Despite the more than 2,000 miles that   separate the two states, what happened in Utah could resonate in Florida. This spring, Sunshine State students also will be taking Common Core standardized tests filled with questions from Utah's exams.

It turns out kids don't play a role in why teachers leave, tests do.

Contrary to popular opinion, unruly students are not driving out teachers in droves from America’s urban school districts. Instead, teachers are quitting due to frustration with standardized testing, declining pay and benefits and lack of voice in what they teach.

The State Board of Education doesn't seem to care about testing concers.

Less than six months from the start of testing aligned with the Common Core State Standards, known as the Florida State Assessments, the state Board of Education barely blinked this week when Hillsborough County school superintendent MaryEllen Elia warned again that the state's public schools aren't prepared to give the tests, scheduled to start in March. Speaking on behalf of her peers, Elia expressed concerns as basic as schools lacking the computers needed for the test and students lacking the skills to use them. The tests the state will use have only been field-tested in Utah, which has a far more homogeneous population, and Florida has no chance to adjust questions for cultural considerations.

A whole lot of unanswered questions about the tests.

My conversations with the Department of Education and AIR continue to replay in my head. How long is the test? We're not really sure yet. What types of passages will students have to read? We're not really sure. Why can't we see samples? They're coming soon — maybe. Will the public ever see these tests? Confidentiality hasn't been determined yet, but generally the tests are for students' eyes only. Are third-graders going to be testing for six hours? I don't have that answer. Why can't we get more sample passages and test items? They haven't been demanded by the public.

Florida's parents are pushing back.

Across Florida, parents are pushing back on standardized tests. Some say schoolchildren are taking too many exams. Others have concerns about the quality of the tests, and the way the results are being used.

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