1. Pasco

Complaints continue over Pasco's quarterly tests

In Pasco County, where teachers rarely speak out, a small but growing number from the classrooms are publicly criticizing the school district's new quarterly testing model.

Speaking to the School Board on Tuesday, Rushe Middle School language arts teacher Lori Lovetere roundly blasted the "checks" the district implemented this fall. She noted that the district leadership promised to reduce local testing, but argued these new assessments simply replace deleted ones.

And the quarterly checks are "clearly not fully vetted," Lovetere said, calling them "ill-conceived and useless." The district has received some other complaints that the questions did not pertain to material already taught, with some saying the items were poorly written.

Lovetere suggested the continued emphasis on testing to prove that teachers are doing their job will, in the end, drive teachers away.

"Being a teacher these days is much like being in an abusive relationship," she said. "We stay for the sake of the children."

District spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said Wednesday that teachers upset with the quarterly checks misunderstand the district's intention.

"We don't understand why the teachers are putting so much pressure on themselves for the quarterly checks," she said. "The whole idea is to see where we need to work more, and to provide supports to the teachers."

Teachers can decide how much each test counts in their classes, although they must factor into student grades somehow, Cobbe said. The results aren't attached to teacher evaluations, and aren't supposed to be used in any high-stakes manner, she added.

"They take it as negative attacks. But it's there to help us do better," Cobbe said.