Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Florida's student tests deserve an F

RECOMMENDED READING


Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart called it "welcome news." County school superintendents say it confirms their worst fears about the botched rollout of the Florida Standards Assessments and suggest the test results are worthless. So you read the following annotated excerpts from the just-released $600,000 study by Alpine Testing Solutions of this year's FSA and judge for yourself whether you would trust the test results. You decide whether, as state education officials contend, everything is on track and just fine with Florida's standardized tests or, as many school superintendents argue, the results can't be trusted and that if their students did such work, they would be failed or given incompletes. Good luck. Begin now.

Excerpt: Scores for some students will be suspect. Although the percentage of students in the aggregate may appear small, it still represents a significant number of students for whom critical decisions need to be made. Therefore, test scores should not be used as a sole determinant in decisions such as the prevention of advancement to the next grade, graduation eligibility, or placement into a remedial course.

Translation: Don't use these scores to pass, fail or otherwise evaluate these students. Use something else, maybe — here's a crazy thought— the teacher's judgment.

Excerpt: The interim passing scores were not established through a formal standard setting process and therefore do not represent a criterion-based measure of student knowledge and skills. The limitations regarding the meaning of these interim passing scores should be communicated to stakeholders.

Translation: We have no idea what a passing score is and the scores don't really measure student performance well, and we should tell you that.

Excerpt: The spring 2015 FSA administration was problematic. Problems were encountered on just about every aspect of the administration, from the initial training and preparation to the delivery of the tests themselves. Information from district administrators indicate serious systematic issues impacting a significant number of students, while statewide data estimates the impact to be closer to 1 to 5 percent for each test. The precise magnitude of the problems is difficult to gauge with 100 percent accuracy, but the evaluation team can reasonably state that the spring 2015 administration of the FSA did not meet the normal rigor and standardization expected with a high-stakes assessment program like the FSA.

Translation: The entire thing was a frustrating mess. We know it was bad, but we can't even tell how bad.

Having read the excerpts, which reaction to the study reflects reality?

A. "This is welcome news for all of us. Now all Floridians can share my confidence in the assessment." — Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart.

B. "We think we're going to be assessing at one level, and they're telling us in their own words that we're not." These results should not be used for school grades, "much less anything else." — Pasco County school superintendent Kurt Browning.

The answer is obvious.

Comments

Another voice: Wall isnít a lifesaver, itís a boondoggle

The first stage of President Donald Trumpís controversial border wall project ended last week, while the prospects for any more construction ó and even what type of wall ó remain uncertain.A Border Patrol agent was killed and his partner seriously wo...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Another voice: Time for Republicans to denounce this tax nonsense

Mick Mulvaney, the phony deficit hawk President Donald Trump tapped to oversee the nationís budget, all but admitted on Sunday that the GOP tax plan currently before the Senate is built on fiction. Senators from whom the public should expect more ó s...
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/21/17
Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

In a state with the nationís highest portion of residents over 65 years old and more than 80,000 nursing home beds, public records about those facilities should be as accessible as possible. Yet once again, Florida is turning back the clock to the da...
Published: 11/20/17

Another voice: A time of reckoning on sexual misconduct

Stories about powerful men engaging in sexual misconduct are becoming so common that, as with mass shootings, the country is in danger of growing inured to them. But unlike the tragic news about that latest deranged, murderous gunman, the massive out...
Published: 11/20/17

Another voice: Trump does the right thing for elephants; he shouldnít back down now

There is bad timing, and then there is this. Last week, an apparent military coup placed Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in custody, ushering in a new period of political uncertainty. A few days later, the Trump administration announced that Zimba...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Editorial: Fighting the opioid crisis on many fronts

Editorial: Fighting the opioid crisis on many fronts

From birth to death, opioid addiction is ravaging the lives of thousands of Floridians. Drugmakers, doctors, state lawmakers and insurance companies all have a role to play in slowing the epidemic. Lately some more responsible answers, including mill...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/21/17

Editorial: Good for Tampa council member Frank Reddick to appeal for community help to solve Seminole Heights killings

As the sole black member of the Tampa City Council, Frank Reddick was moved Thursday to make a special appeal for help in solving four recent murders in the racially mixed neighborhood of Southeast Seminole Heights. "Iím pleading to my brothers. You ...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: Itís time to renew communityís commitment to Tampa Theatre

Editorial: Itís time to renew communityís commitment to Tampa Theatre

New attention to downtown Tampa as a place to live, work and play is transforming the area at a dizzying pace. Credit goes to recent projects, both public and private, such as the Tampa River Walk, new residential towers, a University of South Florid...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: A time for real thanksgiving

Editorial: A time for real thanksgiving

By now the guest list if not the table is all set, and the house will be warmed with the noise of loved ones and the smell of that dish with cream of mushroom soup. Tucked between the sugar rush of Halloween and the sparkle of Christmas, Thanksgiving...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

The Rays definitely like Ybor City, and Ybor City seems to like the Rays. So what could possibly come between this match made in baseball stadium heaven? Hundreds (and hundreds and hundreds) of millions of dollars. Rays owner Stu Sternberg told Times...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/17/17