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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Pasco School Board chairman blasts Florida testing model



Pasco County School Board chairman Steve Luikart doesn't hesitate to mention his 37-plus years' experience in public education when offering his views on issues before the board.

Now he's relying on those years to inform his position on testing in Florida's schools. And he's not too impressed.

"Trying to force the education profession into a scientific equation may seem like a good idea to some," Luikart wrote in a six-page position paper he shared with colleagues last week. "The results of that attempt, however, will not be in the best interest of students. The only ones who will gain are those with financial and political interests.

"The current process for evaluating students, teachers, schools and Districts in the state of Florida is severely flawed at best," he continued. "It lacks credibility and has very little, if any, validity."

Rather than just hurl criticism at the existing system, Luikart offered his own solution. It centers on giving classroom teachers more flexibility to meet their students' needs, while attempting to retain the accountability aspects that many in Tallahassee demand.

Among the highlights, Luikart proposes teachers receive a computer tablet in which they track each student's progress toward academic standards. Their daily movement would be measured through discussion, short assignments and projects, with "short, precise" homework assignments to further inform the overview. More in-depth work could be included, as well.

"The student is taught and evaluated daily by a state certified professional teacher. This is done over a 180 day school year," Luikart wrote. "This allows a trained professional to evaluate the student and take into consideration the student's needs, home life and the vast amount of variables each student brings to the classroom every day. A much more accurate, precise, reliable and current form of data."

Florida statutes would require a rewrite, he acknowledged. But it's time to improve over what Florida has, he stated.

"In my 37 years in the education profession, I have never seen a college application (public or private) that asked for a state test score, from any state," Luikart wrote. "That should tell our state 'experts' something even they can understand."

Read Luikart's full paper for more details. The School Board has a workshop on assessments Tuesday. Your thoughts?

[Last modified: Friday, November 13, 2015 1:16pm]


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