Creating tests will cost how much?
During council debate over HB 7189 / SB 6 on Monday, Florida House sponsor John Legg asserted that creating tests to gauge student gains wouldn't cost the huge amounts that some school district officials contended.
He held up a report about teacher performance pay and said in it independent reviewers had estimated that the expense for Hernando County schools would be about $300,000, while the cost for Volusia schools would come in at about $600,000.
We asked for a copy of the report, The Other 69 Percent, which Legg e-mailed us this morning. And we found it doesn't say exactly what Legg said. In fact, the paper states that Hernando and Volusia district officials -- not independent analysts -- estimated that the costs would run to those levels, as reported by local newspapers. (See pages 17-18)
There was also some context in the document that Legg did not include in his presentation. We will share in the spirit of full elaboration. The Center for Educator Compensation Reform notes that several Florida districts opted out of the Merit Award Program at the time because of the large costs associated with test creation -- the same type that likely would occur with the implementation of SB 6.
Florida's MAP experience offered other lessons, too, the center stated:
"The most important lesson learned from Florida is that creating new tests to assess teacher performance in all noncore subjects is a very complicated, time-consuming, and expensive task. As these examples from Florida show, unrealistic timelines are likely to lead to indefensible strategies, such as tying teacher pay to “growth” between a reading pretest and a posttest in an entirely different subject area.
"Examples from Florida also show that unanticipated costs of developing and administering new tests can, and do, prompt districts to opt out of state performance-pay programs. Good quality testing is always costly, whether in development of end-of-course tests or large-scale assessments, but one way to hold down costs would be to limit the number of new tests to the most critical subjects. Another way would be to establish a state clearinghouse, as Florida did, so that districts and schools can share assessments and avoid duplication of effort."