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Now browsing: Hometown News > Opinion > St. Lucie County

Letter to the editor
Rating: 3.57 / 5 (23 votes)  
Posted: 2012 Sep 14 - 01:13

Candidate against test swap

There is greatness in children that cannot be measured by a test, and yet, our state is intent on testing our students with an even more rigorous test than the FCAT by 2014.

It was recently reported in the news that Florida's schools will be phasing out the FCAT. What was not mentioned was that Florida is replacing the FCAT with an even more difficult test in 2014, known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test. This test is based on common core standards that will be used across the U.S. by numerous, but not all, states.

Florida has spent more than 15 years creating our own standards and untold dollars revising and editing them to achieve perfection. All of this work, time and money have apparently been wasted. Students who struggled with the FCAT, will no doubt find the PARCC test even more difficult as it is an even more rigorous test.

The move to common core standards is supposedly going to stop Florida teachers from "teaching to the test." This phrase means that a teacher sees the test questions in advance and only teaches students to memorize the answers to those specific questions. Since Florida teachers are strictly prohibited from seeing the FCAT in advance, this is impossible. Therefore, Florida teachers are not "teaching to the test."

However, we are constantly aware our students will be tested and that their performance will affect their educational progress and our reputations as professionals. Indeed, we are continually trying to prepare our students to perform at optimal levels and trying to get them over arbitrarily set bars of achievement that have gone higher and higher since 1998.

In addition, there is no discussion on the state level concerning the detrimental effects of school grades on economic development efforts. Businesses that need to attract professionals to an area realize that good schools are vital to recruiting employees, even more important than downtown revitalization projects and beautification attempts.

What most Florida citizens don't realize is that school grades are misleading. Often schools meet the federal guidelines that require every student to show a year's academic growth, which in itself is a worthwhile and difficult task for which teachers and schools should be praised.

However, Florida then adds to its grading criteria the number of students tested, the dropout rate and whether or not students performed at the randomly placed level of achievement each year with no consideration of where the individual student's achievement level was at the beginning of the year. Many people also do not realize that all students' scores are now calculated in school grades.

So, even test scores of students with documented learning disabilities and speakers of other languages are used to calculate school grades. School grades are undermining economic development in Florida and are misleading the public about the condition of their local schools.

Please join me and fight for our children and against all high-stakes testing in our schools. Children, teachers and schools are more than test scores. Parents from throughout the world strive to get their children into American universities and schools because they realize our educational system does more than create robotic test takers.

America's schools always have and always will produce creative problem-solving citizens, if teachers are once again allowed to teach students the joy of and the importance of learning and are once again able to create authentic learning situations, instead of constantly preparing for the all-important high- stakes test, whatever its name may be at the time.

Crystal Drake

Conservative Democratic candidate for Florida House of Representative, District 55 covering Highlands, Okeechobee, Glades and the western portion of St. Lucie counties




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