Winn: No conspiracy here
Just in case you can't get enough of the botched-FCAT story, The Gradebook has rounded up some leftovers. We'll start with former Education Commissioner John Winn, whose take on last year's test was reported in this morning's St. Petersburg Times.
Winn made several points that didn't make the cut for the story. For one, he responded to charges that he and former Gov. Jeb Bush - who hand-picked Winn for the job in 2004 - artificially boosted test scores to make Jeb and his FCAT-heavy education agenda look good. "We didn't put ourselves through all this for politics. The politically expedient way to go about this was to keep everybody happy. We started this for one purpose and one purpose only: To get good, accurate data out there and to drive improvement," said Winn, who now works for the National Mathematics and Science Initiative Inc., an outfit that's trying to get more kids to take AP exams. "For anybody to suggest we would manipulate or give false information about students for political purposes - that's just contrary to the difficulties we've been through … That's a reckless and political charge."
He also noted that he's not a testing expert - in fact, he has degrees in psychology and philosophy. So he relied on testing experts to figure out if a defect caused the scores to spike. Here's the quote that made the paper: "Now did they do as diligent job as maybe they've done this year, looking back? I guess, obviously not." Here's how Winn continued the thought: "But I don't know what they have to do to do it. I don't know what counts as a diligent job because I'm not an expert psychometrician. But we were all basically told, there were no test anomalies, that everything was okay."
- Ron Matus, state education reporter
(Times photo, 2005)