Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: There's still time for a test reform pause

A computer problem that interrupted FCAT testing for tens of thousands of students this week underscores the reasons Florida should slow down its overhaul of school testing and grading systems. Blind adherence to a deadline rather than making time for a reasonable implementation plan defies logic and threatens to run the state's education system off a cliff. Again. It is still not too late to hit the brakes.

On Tuesday, Pasco and Hernando County students were among children in at least a dozen Florida school districts who were unable to complete their FCAT exams because of computer problems. Some students couldn't sign in. Others reported slow responses when they tried to download test questions or submit answers. State officials blamed test provider Pearson Education. By Wednesday, the server problems responsible for the glitches had been fixed, though Pasco suspended testing on Thursday because of local connection issues. Despite the quick fix in most districts, the damage to the state's credibility and perhaps students' confidence was already done. It was not the first time the state has had problems with Pearson. The company's system also stalled in 2011 during end-of-course algebra exams.

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart has ignored the advice of county school superintendents and pressed forward with the adoption of a new school grading system, the selection of a company to create new standardized tests and the full implementation of a new curriculum, Florida Standards. A train wreck like Tuesday's testing debacle is exactly what superintendents have been trying to warn Stewart about. The Department of Education is undertaking a gargantuan effort. Frontline workers in schools have repeatedly told state officials that the department should slow down. But they keep plowing ahead. A stumble this big on tests the state has been giving since the 1990s lends credence to the theory that the education department has taken on more than it can handle.

By their nature, computers can be undependable. That's why a backup plan is critical as the state moves toward a myriad of changes next school year. The state should stop speeding though this important transition just to score political points and avoid taking a breather that would remind families of a time when there was not so much high-stakes standardized testing. Meaningful accountability continues to be the goal, but the race to get there without proper planning invites more trouble.

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Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18