Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Education reformers need to cool their jets for a while

Fourscore and three education commissioners ago, Florida decided to adopt the Common Core State Standards.

This was in the summer of 2010 when education reform was still in vogue and the 2014-15 school year seemed a lifetime away.

Back then, we were cutting edge. We were leaders. We were at the forefront of accountability and changing expectations in education.

We were going to wisely blend Common Core concepts within our Sunshine State Standards and be ready to launch a new era of educational excellence in the 2014-15 school calendar.

There's just one problem. All these years later, we still haven't decided on a test to assess the new standards. Not to mention, critics are now challenging the entire philosophy of national standards.

All of which raises the question: Is there any accountability for the people in charge of accountability?

To be honest, I don't know who to blame. I don't even know if it is possible to point a finger at any one person or group or if this is a collective failing.

But here's what I do know:

The people who scream loudest about accountability in schools need to cool their jets for the next couple of years.

For there is no way you can magically pull a test out of a hat at this late stage and then use it to determine whether a child can be promoted to the next grade, whether a teacher gets a favorable employee evaluation or whether a school is assigned a passing grade.

"You have to have accountability, and as a parent you have to know where your child stands, so these tests are important,'' Florida PTA president Eileen Segal said. "But we also want everyone to realize this is a new test, and it has to be rolled out properly.''

Considering the number of issues with FCAT over the years, it is absolute folly to believe you can introduce a brand new exam with a new set of standards and immediately use it as the litmus test for graduations, raises and funding.

And all this quibbling over which test is best for Florida only reinforces that point.

The state had been gearing up to use the test from the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers , or PARCC, but is now questioning its effectiveness.

That means Florida might decide to adopt another state's assessment tests, or develop its own test (FCAT's version of an updated iPhone, I suppose) in the next few months.

For many who have questioned Florida's fanaticism with standardized tests, the issue was not the tests themselves. It was the way the state tied everything else to the results of those tests, turning classrooms into assembly lines where quotas were the lone objective.

That's why the state needs to be absolutely certain with this next generation of tests. And the only way to be certain is to try them out for a couple of years.

See how the students perform. See what the teachers think. In other words, let's be smart enough to collect the data and actually learn from the tests themselves.

And if that means hitting the pause button on school grades or minimum test requirements, then so be it.

After all, accountability goes both ways. And when it comes to Common Core, our education leaders have not held up their end of the bargain.

Education reformers need to cool their jets for a while 09/21/13 [Last modified: Saturday, September 21, 2013 7:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Deputies: Wimauma teacher's aide sexually molested teen, 13

    Crime

    A Wimauma teacher's aide faces charges lewd or lascivious molestation after Hillborough County deputies say he inappropriatly touched a 13-year-old girl.

    Sonny Juarez, 29, a teacher's aide in Wimauma, faces charges lewd or lascivious molestation after Hillborough County deputies say he inappropriatly touched a 13-year-old girl on several occasions while working at the RCMA Wimauma Academy, 18236 U.S. 301 S, between November 2016 and March 2017. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]

  2. Tampa Bay deputies head to UF to assist with Richard Spencer's speech

    Public Safety

    Local deputies are heading up to Alachua County in preparation of white nationalist Richard Spencer's speech in Gainesville on Thursday.

    Law enforcement is stepped up in Gainesville on Oct. 18, 2017, ahead of Richard Spencer's appearance. [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times]
  3. Gymnast McKayla Maroney alleges sexual abuse by team doctor

    Olympics

    Two-time Olympic medalist McKayla Maroney says she was molested for years by a former USA Gymnastics team doctor, abuse she said started in her early teens and continued for the rest of her competitive career.

    U.S. gymnast McKayla Maroney poses after completing her routine on the vault during the Artistic Gymnastic women's qualifications at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Maroney posted a statement on Twitter Oct. 18, 2017, in which she said she was molested for years by former Team USA doctor Larry Nassar. [Associated Press]
  4. Top 5 at Noon: Facts on Richard Spencer's Florida visit; Column: Jameis, don't be a hero; Locale Market changes again

    News

    Here are the latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com:

    White nationalist Richard Spencer (C) and his supporters clash with Virginia State Police in Emancipation Park after the "Unite the Right" rally was declared an unlawful gathering August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. Spencer is set to speak at the University of Florida. [Getty]
  5. Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast: Uncertainty surrounds Jameis Winston's health

    Bucs

    Greg Auman talks about the Bucs' quarterback situation, with uncertainty around Jameis Winston's health, in his latest Cannon Fodder podcast.

    Jameis Winston takes the field for warmups before the Bucs' game against the Cardinals Sunday in Glandale, Ariz. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]