How much testing is too much for Pasco County schools?
New quarterly tests might be too much for Pasco County teachers and students to deal with, United School Employees of Pasco president Kenny Blankenship told the School Board on Tuesday.
The tests -- scheduled to begin this week in high schools and Oct. 12-23 on other campuses -- take critical decision making away from classroom teachers, who know better than district administrators when students need assessing and what type is best, Blankenship said.
Although the district eliminated some tests, he said, "Teachers are asking, what can we do about those tests that have been increased?"
Superintendent Kurt Browning defended the "quarterly checks" as a quick method to determine whether students are learning the standards taught in the most recent nine weeks. He likened them to a chapter test or unit quiz.
"It is like going to the doctor and having a thermometer put in your mouth to see if you have a fever," Browning said. "If it impacts classrooms at all, it is negligible."
He acknowledged complaints that the results would be used as part of student grades, but said he believed that students would not take the tests seriously if no consequences were attached. The district is not telling schools how much to count the tests toward grades, he added.
The district lists fourth quarter "checks" as optional, as students will be taking state tests.
Even after Browning's explanation, School Board chairman Steve Luikart raised pointed questions about the district's level of testing. He noted that some teachers have told him they've tested seven days already this year, with some having to get substitutes so they could proctor.
He said he didn't have outside confirmation, but figured he had no reason to doubt the teachers.
Luikart stressed the importance of teachers spending time with their students. He called for a review of how much time and money the district spends on testing.
"I want a grip of what we're doing," he said.