Monday, December 11, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Test shows need for Common Core

For all the emphasis in Florida on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, an international test of 15-year-olds administered here for the first time provides a far more compelling and sobering snapshot of why the state needs to push past pressure group politics to fully embrace Common Core standards.

The Program for International Student Assessment is a test of math, reading and science given to 15-year-olds in 65 countries and large educational systems. It is sponsored by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and has been given every three years since 2000. Fifteen-year-olds are tested because they, on average in these nations, are at the end of their basic education. And the test asks students to do the kinds of things a successful citizen must be able to manage after graduation from high school to be productive members of modern society.

U.S. students have typically tested about in the middle since 2000, and they did so again in 2012, based on the results released Dec. 3. They hovered around the OECD average in every subject — a weak result for the world's largest economy and a nation that spends more than nearly anyone else on education.

The news is worse for Florida. In each nation or educational system, a representative sample of students takes the test, and this time three states — Florida, Massachusetts and Connecticut — enlarged their sample sizes and paid to have their individual state results broken out and compared with the world. Florida, the epicenter for high-stakes testing, performed below the U.S. average in every subject. In other words, America is pretty mediocre, and Florida is worse.

PISA is not a high-stakes test like the FCAT. Teacher evaluations aren't based on it. Students don't pass or fail depending on their scores.

But it is important to see what this first-ever international comparison is saying to the Sunshine State: Our 15-year-olds took the same test as students from dozens of other systems and, in short, they didn't compete. Only 6 percent of the Florida students scored at the highest levels in math, while 30 percent did not achieve even basic competence. That means Florida had fewer high performers and more low performers than did the nation as a whole, which itself did worse than OECD averages on both of those measures.

In analyzing the results, the OECD specifically suggests that "successful implementation of the Common Core standards would yield significant performance gains also in PISA."

PISA doesn't dictate how to teach or how to learn. It simply tests whether students know what they need to — and lists those apple-to-apple results against peers. The same is true of the Common Core standards. It's time to get politics out of the classroom and out of the way of the Common Core. Let teachers and students rise to the clear challenge before them.

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Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over stateís rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week wonít make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, itís obvious that Jeff Vinikís plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Another voice: Trumpís risky move

President Donald Trumpís decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israelís capital has a certain amount of common sense on its side. As a practical matter, West Jerusalem has been the seat of Israeli government since 1949, and no conceivable formula for Pa...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

A tactical retreat and regrouping seems to be paying off for Hillsborough Countyís Museum of Science and Industry. After paring back its operations, the museum posted a small profit over the past year, enabling the attraction to keep its doors open a...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Times recommends: McClure for Florida House District 58

Times recommends: McClure for Florida House District 58

Voters in Temple Terrace, Plant City and Thonotosassa have an easy choice in the Dec. 19 special election to replace state Rep. Dan Raulerson, who resigned for health reasons. Republican Lawrence McClure is the only credible candidate.McClure, 30, ow...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Still waiting for flood insurance fix

Editorial: Still waiting for flood insurance fix

It has been 1,979 days since all heck broke loose in the flood insurance industry. Apparently, that just wasnít enough time for Washington to react. So with the National Flood Insurance Program set to expire on Friday, itís looking increasingly likel...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17

Editorial: St. Petersburg should raise rates for reclaimed water

Raising rates on reclaimed water in St. Petersburg is an equitable way to spread the pain of paying for millions in fixes to the cityís dilapidated sewer system. The city has no choice but to start charging utility customers more as the sewer bills c...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17