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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Pasco County teachers should not be surprised by district finals, superintendent says

Pasco County superintendent Kurt Browning

Pasco County superintendent Kurt Browning

Pasco County teachers and parents continue to raise complaints about the school district's local final exams in several courses.

They're suggesting the passing rates are way too low, and the scores count for too much on a student's report card.

"What research has been done to insure that this test is fair, non discriminating and that it accurately reflects the spirit of the standards, etc.?" one parent wrote to superintendent Kurt Browning, referring to a sixth grade world history test her child failed. "The district has advocated for less 'high stakes' testing and then presented the kids with this type of test that the teachers didn't even really know how to prepare the kids for."

Browning stressed that he does not want to minimize the concerns coming in. However, he said, the test content should not be surprising to teachers, who should be prepared.

They have the course description developed by the state, Browning said, and they have the standards attached to the courses. Moreover, he added, the district also provides blueprints of each course.

"We tell you on the blueprint what standards are going to be assessed on the district final, and we tell you the percentage of questions on each standard," Browning said. 

With that information, he suggested, the teachers should not have difficulty getting students ready for the tests. Yet in some instances, he continued, teachers have said they want to run their classes as they see fit, and not in accordance with the standards.

"We are not telling teachers how to teach," Browning said. "We are telling them what standards their kids have got to master. ... They have got to understand the bigger picture. This district is under the gun, and the gun is the Florida standards. And whether you like them or not, you've got to get your students to master those standards."

He added district finals do not have to be the answer. State law allows districts to determine what data to use in assessing teacher outcomes. However, he said, the idea of letting teachers devise their own exams to determine their own success is not necessarily the best answer.

"I am open," he said. "Tell me what we can use that is uniform and objective."

Browning's leadership team was holding a work session on final exams beginning Tuesday morning. The School Board plans a workshop on the subject this summer.

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 12:10pm]


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