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Friday, March 6, 2015

Superintendent Vitti’s opt out letter analyzed.

First wouldn't it be nice if the super said, the way Florida tests is bad for children, schools and teachers, all it is, is punitive and we’re not going to do it anymore. He would have plenty of research and experts to back him up. I get it though, way too many of his chamber of commerce supporters believe in the high stakes testing.

I don’t think it should be lost on anybody that he wanted even these meager options to opt out on the down low. He wrote “… the information should be shared verbally with parents and not sent in a mass letter.” Why not let all the parents know and let them decide for themselves what their terrible options are.

Then I find it ironic that he wrote, “It is also important to emphasize that test results also influence school performance, community perception, and teacher and principal evaluations.” Notice not superintendent evaluations because the board after holding him harmless for last year’s historic drop has already announced that he will be held harmless again this year. It’s good to be the king, have the chamber of commerce in your pocket.

Then does he really want kids to miss weeks at a time? It seems so when he wrote, “For paper-based tests (and computer based tests), the child may be kept out of school throughout the duration of the testing window.” That’s just ridiculous and no educator should encourage kids to miss weeks at a time. If it was a day, okay, but for potentially weeks?

He does give kids another option and that’s just to sit and stair for hours.  “If the child does attend school during the testing window and it is their parent’s preference that they not participate in the exam, then the student will begin the test by listening to the directions, breaking the seal on the test booklets, and may choose not to answer any questions.  The student will be required to sit quietly with their test materials until time is called and their test will be scored.” It’s basically the same for computerized tests.

He’s asking children just to sit and do nothing for up to over two hours. Um that’s the best he can come up with? It almost seems a little cruel, why not send them to a study hall? How hard would that be? 

The way Florida’s tests are unraveling both in the classrooms and in the halls of power in Tallahassee, the writing is on the wall that appreciable changes are coming. It would be nice if we had a leader who would get us ahead of the curve instead of one who wants to keep parents uninformed.

Finally I would like to add that the super talks a big game. In the papers and TV few have been more critical of the tests than him, however when the rubber meets the road it’s roadblock city for families.   

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