Time for a discussion on testing in Florida?
Teachers and lawmakers around the country are setting the bar for a conversation about the role tests play in American education.
In Seattle, teachers at Garfield High School — alma mater to Jimi Hendrix and Bruce Lee, among other notables — have decided to boycott the district's standardized tests, calling them a waste of time and money. Their action, which has spread to at least one other school, has generated a debate over testing and its role.
Down in Texas, meanwhile, state Rep. Jim Pitts — a conservative Republican who heads the House Budget committee — has sparked talk in his own way by zeroing out the state's standardized testing budget. This is the same state where districts by the hundred came out calling for a reduction in high-stakes testing after its now-former state education chief agreed Texas was testing too much.
Here in Florida, the topic continues to get an airing, too. Several school boards have called for a reduction in testing, and some districts (notably Duval) have taken steps on their own to limit tests administered locally. High ranking lawmakers, meanwhile, have insisted that testing is a key part of the state's outcomes-based accountability system, a position new commissioner of education Tony Bennett shares.
Does Florida need dramatic steps, such as what's going on in Seattle and Austin, though, to really generate a meaningful discussion about the value and the limitations of testing? If so, who's going to step up and make it happen?