Duval County goes after 8 year old for violating test security. (rough draft)

Do I have your attention? Above is absurd right? Well the reality
of what happened isn’t far from there and the whole thing started with a fourth grader.

First the district could have gone after a fourth grader who
pointed (out) how similar a real writing prompt was to the practice prompt.
Revealing test information is a first degree misdemeanor. Instead the district
went after Cheryle Ferlita, the district academic services director over
reading language arts for grades three through five. Her grievous sin? Doing
her job.

From the Times Union:

Duval County Public Schools recently demoted a district administrator after
she circulated a practice essay question, called a prompt, that resembled a
real essay question on the state’s new fourth-grade
writing test.

Some School Board members asked Vitti why he was demoting her instead of
taking the more customary actions after investigating an educator. In recent
months, other disciplined educators received written reprimands, suspensions or
were fired.

Vitti said a district internal investigation did not produce enough evidence
for those kinds of punishments in the Ferlita case.

He said the district has no evidence the administrator intended to cheat by
giving teachers an essay question that resembled the Florida exam’s essay
prompt. It may have been an accident, he said, but it showed a lapse of

Yeah how dare she show something similar to something she had never seen. Since it was similar well that nails it right there doesn’t it. Later the article
says she was in Tampa and some students there had taken the test, oh my, why
she wasn’t dragged to the parking lot of the ivory tower and burned at the
stake is beyond me.

What are the chances a practice writing prompt can be similar to a test one?
I would say a hundred percent if the person in question is competent at their
job. You see we want practice questions to be as close to the real ones as possible said everyone who ever gave a practice test before. Instead of demoting her they should have promoted her because it seems like few others at the district office have an idea what they are doing.

As far as I can see
the only lapse in judgment she made was coming to Duval where the super has
nothing but open disdain towards the staff, just usually its teachers who who have bared the brunt or his mercurial leadership style.

Also from the Times Union:

According to district documents, Ferlita asked other educators in March for
possible essay prompts, to give students some last-minute practice at writing
explanatory essays. The weekend before the exams, Ferlita received a writing
prompt and three related articles from a reading specialist; she emailed them
to the district’s reading coaches, suggesting students use them the following
Monday for practice.

The following Tuesday, after students took the real exam, a fourth-grader
pointed how similar the real writing prompt was to the practice prompt,
touching off the district’s investigation.

Vitti said that district officials suspect Ferlita is at fault, even if they
do not know how or if Ferlita saw the real test prompts ahead of time. “There
was no evidence that she knew about the [real test] prompt before the test,”
Vitti said, adding Ferlita visited the Tampa area before Duval took the test
but while that county’s students were taking the writing test.

“The perception was that she knew, but she says she didn’t know and there was
no evidence that she knew” the real essay prompt, Vitti said. “But it was a
lapse of judgment to send the [practice prompt] a day before testing. I no
longer feel comfortable with her in that role.”

Ferlita said she did not know about the real test prompt and didn’t write
the practice prompt.
As for the timing of her emails to the other reading coaches, she pointed
out that the district’s own curriculum guides call for teachers to give final
practice essay prompts to students who need them prior to the state exam.

“I didn’t write it; I didn’t tell her what to write; I just forwarded it,”
Ferlita said. “After 32 years of a spotless career … I’m the only one being

What did the district want to happen the day before the test, were the kids supposed
to lounge by the pool? No the district wants to kill and drill them right up to
the moment of the state test but for some reason the super wants you to believe
that giving a practice prompt the day before the real test is somehow out of

This sounds like the actions of a supper who is quickly unraveling and so
soon after suspending an admin for breaking up a fight.

The subtext is a powerful one and that’s nobody is safe, probably not even
the eight year old this piece started with, well nobody but the super, no
matter what he does.

One Reply to “Duval County goes after 8 year old for violating test security. (rough draft)”

  1. Thank you for this post. As a teacher and reading coach in Duval for many years I have seen too many wonderful teachers, principals, and coaches get blamed for inappropriate actions when there were none. We have used practice prompts for writing tests for years which are found on the state website. In my experience I have seen many actual testing prompts that were similar to past used prompts posted on FLDOE. This is a good reading leader-I'm sorry she is the brunt of yet another DCPS witch hunt!

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