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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Too much testing? Some New York parents take action

Another round of FCAT results come out today. The Florida Department of Education's own projections are less than optimistic for a strong showing, after the department made the test harder and increased the passing score.

Many Florida parents are agitating harder than ever against what they're coming to perceive as an overemphasis on testing. They're not alone.

The NY Times reports that New York parents are fighting back, too. One key way is through opting out.

"As city students have begun a new round of standardized tests — this time so-called “field tests,” which are experimental tests that the state-contracted test-maker, Pearson, is using to try out questions on city students for future use — more parents are talking about opting out. And test resistance appears to becoming more widespread, with substantial numbers of parents at several city schools deciding their children would not participate.

"Resistance also appears to be growing more organized. Groups like Change the Stakes are helping to spread information about opt-out procedures and have created a spreadsheet to help parents navigate the field testing landscape."

Florida parents might take a similar path. As the Miami Herald recently reported, Florida's testing is considered mandatory, but the law is silent on what happens to kids who opt out.

There are alternatives available for students who miss the test. Third graders can take an alternate assessment or use an assessment portfolio to demonstrate their reading ability for purposes of promotion. High school graduates can use SAT or ACT scores rather than FCAT to secure a diploma. School leaders might not like an opt-out movement. After all, they lose some funding if less than 95 percent of eligible students take the test. And teachers stand to lose pay and bonuses if their students don't perform well (or at all).

But what's testing really for, anyway? Supposedly, to inform instruction, right? As a parting thought, consider whether testing helps or hurts students.

Alexandra Usher of the Center on Education Policy at George Washington University says it depends on the test, and the student.

Your thoughts?

[Last modified: Thursday, May 24, 2012 6:38am]


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