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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Pasco superintendent criticizes state's rapid movement on testing

Changes to state law on teacher evaluations have Pasco County school district leaders frustrated.

They had not planned to begin linking each teacher's performance to their classroom students' test results this year. In many cases, they don't have adequate testing to make such calculations happen.

That's particularly true in kindergarten and first grade, where the district found itself forced to adopt national standardized tests and quickly implement them at the end of this semester.

The state's implementation of new rules requiring the connection between students and teachers for evaluations has created a "near crisis situation" for Pasco schools, superintendent Kurt Browning wrote in a recent letter to education commissioner Pam Stewart.

"We were forced to shift our approved (evaluation) plan into immediate action without the necessary resources to support effective, systemic development and implementation of reliable and valid assessments for our instructional staff," Browning wrote. "We feel that not only were we not prepared to accelerate our plan time lines, but also that the elevated requirement undermined the spirit of the law which (to our understanding and agreement) is intended to move teachers toward a professional growth mindset."

He noted that the district had no funds to support added tests, and the state had failed to provide a promised bank of test questions for district use. Meanwhile, the state did not provide timely input to the district on its latest evaluation plans, he continued, making it hard to maintain trust and transparency with teachers and others.

Browning ended by asking some pointed questions about how the state might fix the process. His final query: "What plans does the state have to provide districts additional support and time in order to build appropriate, valid, reliable, equitable and relevant measures of student growth?"

District officials said they didn't expect much action, but felt it necessary to make public these concerns. Read Browning's full letter here.

[Last modified: Friday, May 16, 2014 6:09am]


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