The Senate Education Committee met on March 4th to discuss a proposed committee substitute for SB 616. The bill, sponsored by committee chairman John Legg, makes some good attempts to begin to deal with the testing issue, but given the severe extent of problems, needs additional protections for student and parental rights, privacy and other issues. The bill works to have a 5% cap on testing, which is a step in the right direction, but does not explain who is going to and how the time is going to be kept on different students who take different tests especially in high school. It gets rid of the 11th grade Reading/English test and keeps the 10th grade high stakes test. It allows districts to seek a waiver on school grades if they so choose for technological or financial reasons. However, if they choose that option they cannot qualify for any kind of performance bonuses even if the problems are beyond their control. The bill also decreases the percentage for which test scores are used in teacher evaluations. Several common sense amendments by Senator Bullard that would have enhanced these good first steps were rejected along party lines. One of these amendments allowed a paper/pencil alternative for testing that deals with technology issues and would have also protected students from the manipulative and data mining aspects of computerized testing. This is the same language contained in his bill SB 1450, the Senate companion to Rep. Debbie Mayfield's HB 877, analyzed here. The DOE is now saying in response to emailed inquiries that the FSA is not nor will be adaptive, meaning that the questions change based on the answers to the previous question. However, that is new news and somewhat difficult to accept and verify given AIR's development of the computer adaptive testing platform for SBAC, the other federal Common Core test; the fact that Utah's test, from which Florida is paying another $16 million dollars to lease questions, is also adaptive; and the Read more
Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director
The US House Education and Workforce Committee amended and passed its Elementary and Secondary Education Act/No Child Left Behind six hundred plus page reauthorization bill on February 11th. (Video, Bill and amendment language are available here). It passed on a straight party line vote and is scheduled to be debated on the House floor on February 24th. The Obama White has already issued a paper criticizing the bill, as well as a veto threat.Ideally this massive, unconstitutional, ineffective and expensive law would be repealed and the Department of Education would be closed. Sadly, that is unlikely to happen anytime soon. Dr. Sandra Stotsky and other friends and experts in the movement issued a statement calling for a major elimination of mandates.The bill, called The Student Success Act (HR5) was described by committee member and former Alabama State School Board member Bradley Byrne as "a step in the right direction, but still has far to go," because the federal government "needs a large dose of humility" when it comes to education. We agree!However, while we oppose this bill as a whole, before discussing the significant issues of concern, it is important to congratulate and thank Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and the committee members that supported good language and fought off bad amendments. Here are the highlights: The bill contains language found in an anti-Common Core, anti-Federal interference bill call the Local Control of Education Act, HR 524 by committee member Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) and co-sponsored by Florida Republican Reps. Curt Clawson, Tom Rooney, Ron DeSantis, and Ted Yoho, as well as 43 others. This language prevents the Secretary of Education from "incentivizing" or "coercing" national standards like Common Core or and national test like SBAC or PARCC in any federal law or program like waivers. It is important for preventing future disasters like Common Core.
Former Governor Jeb Bush's foundation and all three gubernatorial candidates have put out statements on high stakes testing. These tests are related to the implementation of Common Core, renamed as the Florida Standards.As the tsunami of opposition to the developmentally inappropriate, invasive and expensive high stakes testing scheme associated with Common Core continues to build, Jeb Bush's foundation is running for cover and trying to back off some of the tests. Executive Director Patricia Levesque wrote a letter posted on Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education website that first tries to defend all of the testing: Schools have the freedom to teach however they think is best. But standardized tests ensure schools teach all children to the same high expectations. Without them, history shows some schools set lower expectations for some students. And we shouldn't have a system that discriminates. (Emphasis in original)
The problem is that there is little evidence historically that statewide standards and tests mandated by the federal government have worked. to improve achievement or close the achievement gap. Despite spending $2 trillion dollars at the federal level, student achievement has remained stagnant and the achievement gap is essentially unchanged:
Other research by Neal McCluskey of Cato reveals that the US does both better and worse on international comparisons than nations with national education standards. Research by Dr. Chris Tienken of Seton Hall University shows that the US leads the world in innovation and entrepreneurialism without national standards.Levesque later admits that excessive testing is a problem and throws a bone to parents: While I strongly believe in tests, I agree there is such a thing as too many tests...Tests need to serve a purpose and not simply take up valuable classroom time. It's refreshing to see that some districts are reviewing their local tests. And we would encourage Read more
As a Family Physician I have a responsibility to plainly communicate with my patients about their health and their responsibilities to maintain their good health. A clear and concise message to each patient helps them follow my recommendations and maintain wellness. My approach to Common Core is to both study and understand this complex program and provide leadership...and some understanding to the families who will ultimately have to live with it.After having read much on the issue, I think I have found one simple statement that sums up the concerns of implementing Common Core. The Washington Post's Valerie Strauss has brought out a clear point in her article that references "The white paper, called "The Ramifications of Standardized Testing on our Public Schools," was just released by the Central Florida School Board Coalition, a group of top officials from 10 school districts."(April 18,2012)The article states: In 1998 (after its initial field testing), the first FCAT was field tested in grades 4, 5, 8, and 10 in reading and math and the first Florida Writes exam was tested in grades 4, 8, and 10. As of 2011, testing has progressed to include:
FCAT 2.0 Reading in grades 3 10FCAT 2.0 Reading in grades 3 10 FCAT 2.0 Math in grades 3 8FCAT Writing in grades 4, 8, and 10FCAT Science in grades 5, 8, and 11FAIR testing (K-2) one to one with teacher FAIR testing (3-12) computer based testingNAEP in grades 4, 8, and 12EOC Algebra 1 in grades 8, 9, and 10EOC Biology in grade 8EOC Geometry in grade 10U.S. History in grade 11PERT Math in grade 11PERT Reading in grade 11PERT Writing in grade 11FCAT Reading & Math retakes through grade 12PERT retakes through grade 12
An enormous increase simply in the sheer quantity of testing has occurred in the State of Florida within the last decade and a half. Moreover, the use of the results of tests has changed. For example, as of 1999, FCAT results assign school grades. In 2001, the Florida State Board of Read more
Karen R. Effrem, MD - Executive Director
Two more important columns have come out in response to Speaker-Designate Steve Crisafulli's op-ed and email and on the general issue of Common Core and testing. Although not really dealing with the issue of the tests coming as a result of Bush Family induced federal mandates and incentives, they, as we do, emphasize the issues of parental rights, loss of instructional time, and stifling of teachers over mandated tests.Former Florida Representative Paula Dockery wrote an excellent column that was particularly cogent on the issues of no one being fooled about the Common Core re-branding to the Florida Standards, Jeb Bush's role, and the need for parental control over decision making in their children's education: Florida approved the benchmarks in 2010 with little dissent, but public opposition is getting louder. Complicating matters for Scott is the fact that Jeb Bush is a vocal supporter of Common Core and of rigorous standardized testing in general. Scott's response to the public outcry was to make some changes to the standards and rebrand the "new" product as the Florida Standards. Opponents of Common Core were neither fooled nor impressed. Jeb Bush, on the other hand, was fine with the changes, as he recognized that the commitment to Common Core essentially remained intact...
...With little movement at the state level other than pacifying platitudes, concerned parents have taken to the school boards to voice their frustration and demands regarding the continuous expansion of testing over teaching......The "paid to advocate" crowd that pushes the idea of parental choice as it pertains to vouchers and charter schools is also the crowd pushing for more and more standardized testing in public schools.Their advocacy for their "parents know best what's right for their children" mantra applies to school choice, but is fiercely challenged when it comes to standardized testing.If Florida doesn't have the backbone Read more
Karen R. Effrem, MD Executive Director
Both House Speaker-designate Steve Crisafulli's Florida Today op-ed and the email sent to Jeff Solocheck at the Tampa Bay Times are emblematic of the low esteem the State of Florida has for the role of parents and the U.S. and Florida Constitutions. Here is a piece of the Tampa Bay Times column: Incoming House Speaker Steve Crisafulli told the Gradebook that he's not interested in providing that choice [to have parental opt-out of the tests].
"Creating an opt-out process would negatively impact our students, teachers, and schools," the Merritt Island Republican said via e-mail. "Students who opt-out would not be eligible to receive a high school diploma or a Bright Futures Scholarship. In addition, an opt-out process would make it impossible to provide raises to our teachers and would cost schools state and federal funds."Of course, all these provisions are set by the Legislature, and they did not always exist.He added, "According to the Florida Constitution, the state has the paramount duty to provide a high quality public school system. Without an accountability system for all public school students, the state cannot ensure that children attending our public schools have the opportunity to receive a high quality education."
Perhaps Rep. Crisafulli needs a refresher in understanding on the following issues:The Supreme Role of Parents in Education - That parents have the right to direct the care, education, and upbringing of their children has been part of American jurisprudence since the nation's founding and part of legal tradition for thousands of years. That notion has been affirmed in many Supreme Court Cases such as Pierce vs. Society of Sisters, which says:"The child is not the mere creature of the state: those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right coupled with the high duty to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations."The state and federal governments do not know better Read more
Two recent events show that parents, teachers and elected official are standing against academically unhelpful, developmentally inappropriate, psychologically invasive and expensive tests. That movement is spreading across the country, this time to Colorado.Analogous to what happened in Lee County, the Colorado Springs School Board for District D-11 voted unanimously to seek a way to opt out of the PARCC test, the statewide assessment used in that state to measure compliance with Common Core. The resolution will only test the minimum number of students and parents will be able to opt out. According to television station KOAA, the concerns were mostly and rightly about lost instructional time: The District's resolution regarding state mandated testing would mean students and teachers can focus more on education and life skills in the classroom and spend less time preparing for standardized tests. It's designed to give the district flexibility in the classroom......In a daring move, all seven board members gave a resounding "yes" at Wednesday's meeting, in favor of not giving all students the state tests Partnership of Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS)."I know that i've heard from community members over the last several years, whether it be parents, whether it be teachers whether it be principals that we seem to test more than we teach," said Dr. Gledich.The resolution asks the State Board of Education to allow D-11 to only test a random selection of students with PARRC and CMAS during the next three years, enough to meet the federal minimums. Parents would be able to opt-out or opt-in their students for the tests, Dr. Gledich said.
As with the Lee County vote, parents came from all over Colorado in support and were thrilled at the support of parents' rights:
"I'm so excited that D-11 has taken a stand," said Sarah Sampayo, who's children attend Lewis-Palmer District 38 schools. Read more
Please listen to this appalling call into the Drew Steele Show on 92.5 Fox News in the Naples/Fort Meyers area from a Florida teacher named Josh. http://925foxnews.com/mp3/PODCAST_-_Josh_Teacher.mp3
Josh was specifically told by the principal that he and his fellow teachers could not teach about 9-11 because there was nothing in the teaching for that day that related to the end of year testing. The teachers had to wait until the principal was out of the building at another meeting to sneak in lessons about one of the most important events in our nation's history..This is another example, like Dr. Effrem's report on the radicalized AP US History framework, of how the teaching and testing of Common Core is destroying and rewriting our nation's history and heritage and it must be stopped. Read more
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