I love posting guest articles. It is always refreshing to get other opinions out there. This one hails from Deb Herbage down in Florida. I’ve known Deb for a couple months now and we share many of the same thoughts. Her post is based off the Florida state assessment, the FSA. While it isn’t the Smarter Balanced or PARCC, it was created by the very same vendor Delaware has for the Smarter Balanced Assessment: American Institutes for Research! We need a hero, and Deb is already one of them!
Written by Deb Herbage
It has been 260 days and 8 months since my daughter sat for the FSA (Florida Standards Assessment) at her elementary school here in Florida and we still have no scores. 260 days and 8 months ago she took the first of many tests that were supposed to tell her teachers where her learning deficiencies are. A test that was supposed to show academic improvement. A test that was supposed to show performance data. A test that was supposed to show us, her parents, results. What we received was appalling. What we received was not a report telling us about her learning deficiencies, academic gains or performance. What we received was deeply disappointing. Two sheets of paper (stuffed in her backpack) showing her “percentile rank” – one for ELA and one for math. THAT’S IT. This test that was supposed to revolutionize education. This test that we paid AIR $176 million dollars is an embarrassment and a flop. It’s worse than a flop – it’s an epic failure of monumental proportions. A big disappointment. A rip-off.
We are now into our second quarter of the new school year and we STILL have no scores. I do not know how my daughter scored on the FSA and I probably never will. Her teachers do not know if there were any learning gains or deficiencies but it would be a moot point at this stage of the game considering the test was 8 months ago. All the empty promises of a cost-effective test, a test that could be scored instantaneously, a test that provided immediate results, all just that – empty promises. This test was written and designed for one purpose and only one purpose – accountability. This test was designed to evaluate my daughters teachers, school and district. This test was never about the students. The Superintendents in the state of Florida called the accountability system “severely flawed” and “lacking credibility and validity” after the validity fiasco. Governor Scott and the FDOE are moving ahead with the “severely flawed” and “incredulous and invalid” test results to grade our schools and evaluate our teachers. It was never about the students. That is quite evident now.
As a parent – I am deeply concerned at the current state of education in the state of Florida. I am deeply concerned that my daughter is not getting the education that our tax dollars support. I am deeply concerned that the damage being done to her and all the students in the state of Florida will be unmeasurable and hopefully not irreversible.
The FDOE, the FL senators, Governor Scott and the FL legislators seem to think this is okay since they are the ones that put this in place. They seem to think that leaving our kids, teachers and schools in limbo for 8 months and using “invalid and incredulous” results to hold our kids, teachers and schools accountable is okay. It’s time to man up. Stop pointing the finger of blame at our teachers and schools and take responsibility for your failures and clean up the horrendous mess you created. We didn’t ask for this – it was forced upon us.
If I am to believe the test scores that have been released across the country– then Florida will fall right in line with the rest of the country and fail either 54% or 70% of our students next month when the cut scores are set. All across the country the SBAC/AIR and PARCC (testing consortia) results have been slowly released – trickling in and they are not good. Another big disappointment. Another epic failure. They are going to tell us our kids “failed”. They will want us to believe our kids are not “college or career ready”. They can tell us that because they control the numbers and make them what they want them to be. The only failure I see is the test. The big disappointment, epic failure of a test. 260 days for this?
How bad does it have to get before someone, ANYONE does something to put an end to this? How many more kids will be labeled as failures before someone acts? How many more hours and days of real, quality instructional time will our kids have to miss for unnecessary test prep and test taking before someone does something? How many more kids will be labeled and sorted before anyone does something? How many more teachers will be driven out before someone does SOMETHING? All it takes is one. A coward hides behind lies and deceit. We need a hero because we have a lot of cowards. Who will be our hero?
If the folks in Tallahassee think for one second that parents are more concerned with “percentile ranks” than they are with their child’s education then clearly they are not listening to parents, teachers, the public or students. They should be ashamed of themselves for labeling our kids as failures when that title deservedly goes to them. Time to end the malfeasance and man up and stop hurting our children. Maybe we will have our test scores by then, until so we will continue our act of civil disobedience by opting out of the test so we don’t have to wait another 260 days.