A couple weeks ago, Glenton Gilzean, a member of the Pinellas County School Board, voted against a national anti-testing resolution. He was the only board member opposed to it. (See a previous blog post here.)
We followed up with him to ask for more details about his objection - and how he feels now that the Florida School Boards Association has passed its own Florida-specific resolution.
Gilzean said he had a problem with language in the national resolution. This paragraph, to be specific:
"WHEREAS, high-stakes standardized testing has negative effects for students from all backgrounds, and especially for low-income students, English language learners, children of color, and those with disabilities..."
Gilzean said he wasn't comfortable saying that standardized testing had negative effects "especially" for low-income students, English language learners, children of color and those with disabilities. He said that paragraph ignored the fact that many of those students have made substantial gains since Florida started using the FCAT as a high-stakes test.
"When you look at those particular subgroups, that's just wrong," he said. "We've made some tremendous gains."
For instance, students have posted remarkable improvement on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a national test often called the nation's report card. Fourth grade reading scores, for example, have improved for black, Hispanic and white students. In 1998, when the FCAT debuted, Hispanic fourth graders eaned a 198 average scale score on the reading exam. In 2011, they scored 220. Similar gains have been made among black and white fourth graders for the reading test. (See more about NAEP here and here.)
Many school boards have voted for the national resolution, while some said they, too, had issues with the language.
The Florida-specific resolution doesn't have that same language. (Although its passage has sparked a war of words between state education officials and school boards.) Gilzean said he hasn't had a chance yet to study the new resolution, so he can't speak for or against it. But he said he though Pinellas could have taken a lead in writing a better resolution than the national one.