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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Humiliation not improvement is the goal of the commissioner and state board of education.

Sixty-four of sixty-seven of Florida’s school superintendents said in a letter that they have lost confidence with the pubic school accountability system, joining millions of teachers and parents and numerous civic organizations statewide. They have urged education commissioner Pam Stewart and the state board of education not to give school grades based on the much maligned Florida Standards Assessment until all the bugs are worked out and confidence can be restored. The commissioner and boards response thus far has been to say not only will we go forward but we will make passing scores as high as possible and we should all ask why.

I believe it is because the commissioner and board, none of who were elected and were appointed by an administration who is more interested in privatizing our school system than improving them, want to humiliate the state’s schools and teachers.

Higher passing scores will lead to more schools being labeled as failures and more teachers being labeled as ineffective. Then the states reliance on high stakes testing and insistence in using a flawed test will also drive more families to take vouchers which have don’t have the same ill-conceived accountability measures in place. In fact they have practically no accountability measures in place as voucher schools don’t have to have certified teachers, recognized curriculums nor take a test that shows any type of growth, furthermore they don’t even have to account for how they spend the money given to them unless they take over two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, which is the vast majority of them.

Isn’t it time the Commissioner of Education and the state board of education supported our schools rather than continuously tried to injure them? Sadly they might not do so unless we demand it.

1 comment:

  1. Message from the commissioner:

    Good Afternoon,

    Today, I published my recommended achievement level cut scores for the Florida Standards Assessments (FSA), and I am writing to provide you with details and share next steps.

    Because the work you do of preparing our state’s students for successful careers is so important, I wanted to share information directly with you about my recommendations for these cut scores. After considering a great deal of input, my recommendations were established by balancing the tough requirements of high standards with the understanding that Florida students are on a continual journey of improvement.

    For background, each time a new assessment is administered, the Department of Education must conduct a comprehensive process to set achievement level cut scores, which determine the score students must meet to pass. Assessments and these corresponding achievement level cut scores are critical because they serve as a barometer of students’ knowledge and help guide students, educators and parents to make necessary adjustments for improvement. Our content standards describe what students should know and are able to do, and the assessment cut scores help us know whether they have learned those standards at each grade level.

    To date, we have completed educator and community member (reactor) panels, hosted three public meetings, one being a statewide webinar, and opened the online public input form to garner feedback.

    After careful consideration of the panels’ recommendations and the public feedback we have received, I released my achievement level cut score recommendations, which will go before the State Board of Education for consideration, and provided a copy to the Legislature. State Board of Education adoption is scheduled at least 90 days after the copy is provided to the Legislature. We expect this multi-stage process to be complete by January 2016.

    In the meantime, we will continue taking public feedback. As an educator, your input is invaluable, and I encourage each of you to take the time to review my recommendations, posted here, and provide feedback through the online form.


    Pam Stewart
    Education Commissioner