Florida can we talk about testing (draft)

When we get back to school there will be infinitely more things to do, social distancing, covid prep, make up from the spring, teaching kids how to be students again, dealing with mental health and trauma and etc. etc. etc. Teachers and students plates will be full. Since that is the case and we won’t have nearly as much time, Tallahassee should take the high stakes, that has defined the state for a decade, off the table. 

Florida’s testing regimen does not drive or improve instruction. You get the results back way after they would do any good. Furthermore the way we do it steals instruction time, we spend so much time worrying about and prepping for tests and it eats into weeks of teaching. 

Before you think nobody would go for canceling the tests Georgia has already requested a waiver for next years exams.

From U.S. News and World Report,

 Georgia‘s governor and the state school superintendent plan to ask for federal permission to suspend all state standardized testing in public schools for a second year.

Gov. Brian Kemp and State Superintendent Richard Woods said in a joint statement Thursday that the tests would be “counterproductive” given disruptions to the upcoming 2020-2021 school year from COVID-19. They also said they would rather the state spend the money it would pay for tests on helping students in other ways.
“In anticipation of a return to in-person instruction this fall, we believe schools’ focus should be on remediation, growth, and the safety of students,” the two elected Republicans said. “Every dollar spent on high-stakes testing would be a dollar taken away from the classroom.”

Florida’s high stakes testing are not designed to help, nope they are hear to bash teachers and schools and we won’t have any time for that this year. Let’s be honest we are going to need as much time as we can to drive instruction because for many there will big gaps, if the system itself doesn’t shut down.

A teacher or a student tests positive, then large swathes of the school will have to shut down.  If a teacher gets sick, well friends, now maybe the kids have weeks of a substitute instruction, maybe. Both of those things are all but assured to happen.

Another reason to pause testing is money. Florida spends hundreds of millions of dollars on testing and in good years that money could be better spent. 20-21 is not going to be a good year. the first half anyways and schools will need more resources than ever.  

In good years Florida’s high stakes tests have little value, and 20-21 will not be a good year. We will have to much on our plate making up for missing time and trying to make sure teachers, staff and students are safe. The governor and commissioner should ask for a waiver of the tests and do so sooner than later.



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