Jeb Bush's foundation calls for fewer, better tests in Florida

Published Oct. 21, 2014

You know that concern over testing in Florida has hit its boiling point when Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education issues a letter to parents with the headline "Fewer Tests. Better Tests."

Foundation executive director Patricia Levesque wrote that her organization has not stopped supporting assessments to provide an "honest, objective report" of how kids are doing in school. That's what the former governor promoted as key to accountability, after all.

She also stressed that the state of Florida doesn't really mandate all that many tests -- just some end-of-course exams and the annual FCAT, to be replaced by the Florida Standards Assessment.

After all the defenses, though, Levesque reached the point that many others have been shouting for weeks and months now: "While I strongly believe in tests, I agree there is such a thing as too many tests," she wrote.

Maybe it's districts' fault. Maybe it's because of the state. Bottom line, though, Levesque suggested, the number must drop.

"Tests need to serve a purpose and not simply take up valuable classroom time," she wrote. "It's refreshing to see that some districts are reviewing their local tests. And we would encourage the state to also do a review to see if there are duplicative tests that could be eliminated. I believe in fewer tests, better tests, and tests that serve a meaningful purpose -- to ensure our schools prepare our children for a life where they are able to thrive."

School boards across Florida increasingly are joining the call for a reduction in the tests and a rethinking of the way their results are used. Broward and Pinellas are on tap today. With Bush's foundation, which remains influential in Tallahassee, taking such a public position, perhaps change is really afoot. Don't look for action until after the November election. But after that, watch for it.

Read Levesque's full letter to parents here.