Monday, March 13, 2017

A Florida court decision about third-graders and testing falls ‘on the side of stupid’ - The Washington Post

A Florida court decision about third-graders and testing falls ‘on the side of stupid’ - The Washington Post:

A Florida court decision about third-graders and testing falls ‘on the side of stupid’


A picture of the scene in court on Friday, Aug. 12, where judge heard lawsuit by parents against education officials in Florida. This was drawn by Peyton Mears, an 11-year-old who was at the hearing to support the parents. The woman on the stand is a parent, Michelle Rhea. (Drawing by Peyton Mears)
A picture of the scene in a Florida court Aug. 12, where a judge heard a lawsuit by parents against state education officials. This was drawn by Peyton Mears, an 11-year-old who was at the hearing to support the parents. The woman on the stand is a parent, Michelle Rhea. (Peyton Mears)
“Florida, in short, had a chance to show whether it was on the side of education or on the side of stupid. It picked stupid.”
That’s how veteran teacher Peter Greene described what an appeals court in Florida just did in a case about some third-graders — including honor students — whose parents opted them out of a state-mandated standardized test in spring 2016 and who then weren’t permitted to move on to the fourth grade. Three judges on the court decided that a standardized reading test is the best way to decide whether third-graders should move to fourth grade — not actual school work or grades.
Assessment experts say it isn’t true — despite years of battles over the value of high-stakes standardized test scores — but the judges ruled that way anyway. It is worth noting that Florida has had so many serious problems with its standardized testing accountability system — in which high-stakes test results are used to evaluate students, teachers and schools — that school superintendents statewide revolted in 2015 and said they had “lost confidence” in its accuracy.
The case involves a Florida law, passed years ago when Jeb Bush was governor. It says that students who fail a third-grade language arts test can’t move on to the fourth grade, though some children who can demonstrate required reading ability through a state-approved alternative test or student portfolio can win promotion if a school district decides to allow an exemption. The third-grade retention policy has not been shown to have a lasting benefit to students, but Florida and other states that adopted it at Bush’s urging maintain it anyway.
Parents of the third-graders from a number of school districts who were denied promotion because they opted out of the test went to court and sued. In August 2016, Leon County Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers ruled that those school districts that had refused to promote third-graders who declined to answer the test questions had been wrong to do so. She wrote:
“Grade 3 students with no reading deficiency should not be retained, but should be promoted.”
But the case was appealed and the 1st District Court of Appeal just overturned Gievers’s ruling. Three judges on the appeals court panel said the districts weren’t wrong, and they made clear that they think that  standardized testing is the best way to determine whether a student has the reading skills necessary for promotion, not proficiency:A Florida court decision about third-graders and testing falls ‘on the side of stupid’ - The Washington Post:




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