Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Romano: Rick Scott gets it all wrong about student testing

It sounds really, really good. Sounds decisive. Sounds American.

Gov. Rick Scott on Monday put out a campaign brochure disguised as an educational policy statement that blasted federal government intrusion in schools and hinted that local districts have gone overboard testing your children.

Like I said, it sounds good.

If only it wasn't misguided.

The governor deserves credit and praise for his request to increase school funding to record levels next year, but the rest of his proposal is little more than pandering.

He correctly surmises that parents have grown weary with high-stakes testing, and says he wants the commissioner of education to conduct a "comprehensive investigation" of all standardized tests being given to students.

The implication is that the world would be a better place if we based everything on the state-mandated test, formerly known as the FCAT, and scrapped standardized assessments that local school districts might pile on. On this, he could not be more wrong.

The problem is not the number of tests, it is the enormous stakes placed upon the FCAT. School funding, teacher evaluations, student promotions, even proposals like the parent trigger law are all tied to one end-of-year exam.

That's what is upsetting to parents — the idea that entire schools have become beholden to the results of a single test conceived by some out-of-state corporation.

"I would argue with anybody that local district assessments are much more important than the statewide assessment," said Pasco County school superintendent Kurt Browning. "Local tests help teachers guide instruction and target areas of need. All the state test does is take a snapshot of what a student knows on one particular day.

"If he is so concerned and committed to local control, why do we put so much emphasis on the state's high-stakes assessments? Why not look at local assessments?"

Any suggestion that we limit tests is actually counter-intuitive. If assessments are so valuable that we build the entire school year around one, then how can it possibly hurt to gauge progress with additional tests?

In other words, do you want to wait until the FCAT to find out your child is behind the curve in math or reading?

"These assessments are being made out to be some sort of boogeyman," said Hills­borough County superintendent Mary Ellen Elia. "Tests have always been a part of education. Unit tests, spelling tests, we've taken them all of our lives. Tests inform a teacher of what's going on with each student, and that's a good thing.

"Where it becomes a problem is when a test is the be-all and end-all of education."

Scott does not want the federal government meddling in Florida schools. I couldn't agree more. Unfortunately, the bigger problem is the state government keeps sticking its nose in local schools.

Lawmakers in Tallahassee are responsible for our current mess. They have spent so much time trying to legislate accountability, they have sapped the creativity, individuality and distinctiveness from our schools. Public schools have become factories designed to produce students capable of passing the FCAT.

No, Gov. Scott, local tests are not the problem.

The issue is the atomic-level stakes assigned to your beloved state test. That's what is causing so much disruption and destruction in Florida.

Romano: Rick Scott gets it all wrong about student testing 08/25/14 [Last modified: Monday, August 25, 2014 8:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Protectors of Confederate statue readied for a battle that never materialized

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — Big Dixie flags were waving. County employees had erected a barrier around the Confederate soldier statue at Main and Broad streets. Roads and parking areas were blocked off. Uniformed local officers and federal law enforcement patrolled.

    Police tape and barricades surround the Confederate statue in Brooksville.
  2. Manhattan Casino choice causes political headache for Kriseman

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — Days before the mayoral primary, Mayor Rick Kriseman's decision to let a Floribbean restaurant open in Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino has caused political angst within the voting bloc he can least afford to lose: the black community.

    Last week Mayor Rick Kriseman chose a Floribbean restaurant concept to fill Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino. But that decision, made days before next week's mayoral primary, has turned into a political headache for the mayor. Many residents want to see the building's next tenant better reflect its cultural significance in the black community. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  3. FSU-Bama 'almost feels like a national championship game Week 1'

    Blogs

    The buzz is continuing to build for next Saturday's blockbuster showdown between No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Florida State.

  4. Plan a fall vacation at Disney, Universal, Busch Gardens when crowds are light

    Florida

    Now that the busy summer vacation season is ending, Floridians can come out to play.

    Maria Reyna, 8, of Corpus Cristi, TX. eats chicken at the Lotus Blossom Cafe at the Chinese pavilion at Epcot in Orlando, Fla. on Thursday, August 17, 2017.  Epcot is celebrating it's 35th year as the upcoming Food and Wine Festival kicks off once again.
  5. USF spends $1.5 million to address growing demand for student counseling

    College

    TAMPA — As Florida's universities stare down a mental health epidemic, the University of South Florida has crafted a plan it hopes will reach all students, from the one in crisis to the one who doesn't know he could use some help.

    A student crosses the University of South Florida campus in Tampa, where visits to the school's crisis center more than doubled last year, part of a spike in demand that has affected colleges across the country. The university is addressing the issue this year with $1.5 million for more "wellness coaches," counselors, online programs and staff training. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]