Thursday, October 1, 2015

Big trouble in Florida schools — and it’s not a hurricane - The Washington Post

Big trouble in Florida schools — and it’s not a hurricane - The Washington Post:

Big trouble in Florida schools — and it’s not a hurricane

There’s big trouble in Florida — and it’s not a hurricane.
A battle over Florida’s public education system may be reaching a tipping point, with school superintendents revolting against the state’s school accountability system and editorial boards of major newspapers now weighing in on their side. One, the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida,  is warning against the collapse of that system.
The Florida Association of District School Superintendents issued a statement on Sept. 25 saying that  superintendents have “lost confidence” in the current accountability system for students and schools, which is based on the scores students receive on the controversial Florida Standards Assessments. The superintendents called for a suspension of the accountability system and a full review.
The assessments — given to Florida students for the first time this past spring — are aligned to the Florida Standards, which were adopted in 2014 to replace the Common Core State Standards but strongly resemble the Core. Florida also dropped the Common Core test known as the PARCC, which was created by a multi-consortium funded by the Obama administration to develop new exams aligned to the Core. The administration of the new exams was marred by severe technological problems, frustrating superintendents, teachers and students.
The Miami Herald published an editorial on Sept. 28, with the headline, “State fails its own school district,” that said in part:
The long-festering dispute between local school districts and an unreasonable Florida Department of Education turned into open revolt last week as superintendents across the state finally declared that they’ve lost confidence in the state’s testing and grading system.
The well-justified howl from the districts follows years of mounting frustration with a flawed system that unfairly affects schools and students, and the refusal of state education leaders to acknowledge the damage.
Essentially, the superintendents declared that they’ve had it with a so-called “accountability system” that shortchanges the teachers, students and parents across Florida, regardless of what Education Commissioner Pam Stewart and her allies in Tallahassee may think.
And the Sun-Sentinel ran an editorial [see full text below] on Sept. 29, which succinctly explains what is going in Florida, where Jeb Bush, as governor, launched education reforms from 1999-2007 that were adopted by many states around the country. As the editorial notes, Bush’s standardized test-based accountability system was a model only in the sense that people followed it, not because it was good. It says in part:
The superintendents say in their statement that, “We have witnessed the erosion of public support for an accountability system that was once a model for the nation.” But Florida’s system was a “model” only in the sense it has been emulated. It never has been the perfect model too many pretend.
Now the flaws have been exposed to an extent never before acknowledged. Unless teachers are held harmless and the only school grades assigned are “Incomplete,” the collapse of Florida’s accountability system will be complete.
Bush is now running for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination and is touting his education reforms. However, he doesn’t discuss the collapse of the Big trouble in Florida schools — and it’s not a hurricane - The Washington Post: