Hernando School Board likes anti-testing idea, but knocks resolution wording
From Danny Valentine, our new Hernando County education reporter:
The Hernando County School Board on Tuesday night voted down a resolution against high-stakes standardized testing.
It wasn’t because board members don’t like the concept, which has been discussed by several other school boards across Florida. They just didn’t like the way the resolution was written.
“The reason I’m having problems supporting this resolution is I pretty much wouldn’t have written it this way,” said board member John Sweeney.
Chimed in Vice Chairman Matt Foreman: “The resolution is rather poorly worded.”
Following a 3-1 vote against the resolution, which was not reviewed in workshop before the meeting, the board asked its attorney to rewrite the resolution, clean it up a bit and make it more customized for Hernando.
“There are so many children that get so upset before FCAT testing,” said board Chairwoman Cynthia Moore, a former teacher. “You have parents that get upset about it. You have teachers teaching to the test and leaving out material I feel that they need. I just think we need to get rid of some of the tests.”
While the board and superintendent Bryan Blavatt largely opposed testing in its current form, they were not against testing. The resolution urges the state to develop a broader system of accountability and the federal government to reduce testing mandates.
“My point of contention is that the tests were originally designed to measure student performance and provide help with the students to do better,” Blavatt said. “Over the years, it’s become a benchmark for measuring one school, or one district, against another and making a determination for the general public on the quality of the schools and whatever.”
While he said the language of the resolution needed to be tinkered with, he liked the concept.
Sweeny agreed with Blavatt’s point of view.
“The right thing is to use it to help the students,” he said. “The wrong thing is to use it to make the students sick. And that’s what I’m hearing over and over.”
He added: “I think we do need to revist how the test is used and when it’s administered, but we do need to have some kind of standard measure.”