Pinellas board approves anti-testing resolution
The Pinellas County School Board passed an anti-testing resolution after a lengthy discussion Tuesday.
The board voted 6-1 in favor of the resolution, with board member Glenton Gilzean dissenting. All but Gilzean praised the resolution as a long-awaited message to the state.
Linda Lerner said she’d been waiting years for “something like this.”
“I say thank goodness this is finally in our hands,” she said.
Peggy O’Shea said the FCAT has been used in ways that were never intended.
“I think it’s time that the state take a look at the test and say, ‘Is this the right test?’” she said.
But Gilzean said he was “extremely disappointed” in some of the language included in the resolution. He took issue with the resolution saying that all students were negatively affected by testing – and questioned whether it was appropriate to single out low-income, disabled and minority students in particular.
“Are we agreeing that it negatively affects all students? Wow,” he said.
Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association president Kim Black brought forward the "National Resolution Against High-Stakes Testing" in late May. It was first adopted in Palm Beach County. It has been adopted in many other counties, including Broward, St. Lucie, Osceola and Alachua.
The resolution was written by Parents Across America, a non-profit organization, in collaboration with a variety of education groups. It was modeled after a resolution passed by school boards in Texas.
Here's the text of the proposed resolution:
WHEREAS, our nation's future well-being relies on a high-quality public education system that prepares all students for college, careers, citizenship and lifelong learning, and strengthens the nation's social and economic well-being; and
WHEREAS, our nation's school systems have been spending growing amounts of time, money and energy on high-stakes standardized testing, in which student performance on standardized tests is used to make major decisions affecting individual students, educators and schools; and
WHEREAS, the over-reliance on high-stakes standardized testing in state and federal accountability systems is undermining educational quality and equity in U.S. public schools by hampering educators' efforts to focus on the broad range of learning experiences that promote the innovation, creativity, problem solving, collaboration, communication, critical thinking and deep subject-matter knowledge that will allow students to thrive in a democracy and an increasingly global society and economy; and
WHEREAS, it is widely recognized that standardized testing is an inadequate and often unreliable measure of both student learning and educator effectiveness; and
WHEREAS, the over-emphasis on standardized testing has caused considerable collateral damage in too many schools, including narrowing the curriculum, teaching to the test, reducing love of learning, pushing students out of school, driving excellent teachers out of the profession, and undermining school climate; and
WHEREAS, high-stakes standardized testing has negative effects for students from all backgrounds, and especially for low-income students, English language learners, children of color, and those with disabilities; and
WHEREAS, the culture and structure of the systems in which students learn must change in order to foster engaging school experiences that promote joy in learning, depth of thought and breadth of knowledge for students; therefore be it
RESOLVED, that the School Board of Pinellas County, Florida, calls on Governor Scott, the Florida Department of Education and the state legislature to reexamine public school accountability systems in this state, and to develop a system based on multiple forms of assessment which does not require extensive standardized testing, more accurately reflects the broad range of student learning, and is used to support students and improve schools; and
RESOLVED, that the School Board of Pinellas County, Florida, calls on the U.S. Congress and Administration to overhaul the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, currently known as the "No Child Left Behind Act, " reduce the testing mandates, promote multiple forms of evidence of student learning and school quality in accountability, and not mandate any fixed role for the use of student test scores in evaluating educators.