State education leaders will soon decide how Florida students will be evaluated based on those controversial FSA test scores.
But Wednesday in Orlando, parents, school administrators and even former teachers from across Florida got a chance to tell state leaders what they think about it.
The State Board of Education got an earful.
“We are the new abolitionists,” yelled one parent a part of the “opt-out” movement.
The comment drew cheers from a crowd in front of the state board filled with critics of the FSA test.
On Wednesday, State Education Commissioner Pam Stewart gave her official recommendations, and matched scores from Spring 2015’s FSA test with a proposed grading system. In the new grading system, just more than half of Florida students pass the test – or grade “satisfactory.”
Individual school districts, students and parents have not yet received their scores from last year's FSA testing, but state education leaders are beginning to look at how those scores are stacking up with their newly recommended grading system.
“If the effective teachers continue to leave, test scores will drop. So I implore you to think long and hard about your next steps,” said Dr. Wendy Bradshaw, a Polk County teacher who resigned last week over what she says were frustrations over the FSA.
Tracy Roelle’s has opted her kids out of taking the FSA. She’s against any testing tied to teacher pay.
“There’s no information given back to the teachers so the teacher can inform instruction. So I’m not sure how they can take those scores and use them to determine learning gains,” said Roelle.
The state board of education meets all over the state. For many parents, Wednesday’s regular meeting at the Orlando International Airport was the first, and maybe the last time they’ll have a chance to stand before the state board and share their views on the FSA and its proposed grading system. The board plans to approve final grading plans in January.
Parents and even a growing number of school administrators across the state are now supporting the Sunshine Solution, a plan Seminole County School Board members came up with that would replace the FSA with other tests. The board of education has rejected that plan, but Wednesday Seminole County School Board’s chair asked them again.
“Consider using nationally normed tests that can be administered in far less time, generate nationally comparative scores, and return results to use in no more than 30 days,” said Seminole County School Board Chair Tina Calderone.
State education leaders say they won’t penalize any students or schools based on scores from the first year of FSA testing.
“They’re informational baseline grades in accordance with the law, so there are no negative consequences for schools or anybody else. It is just to see where are we standing with our Florida standards,” said Kathy Hebda, Chief of Staff for the Florida Department of Education.
The FSA has drawn a lot of criticism, particularly because the testing process was plagued with computer glitches, and critics say it took away too much instruction time.
Members of a movement to opt out of testing argue the FSA — and standardized testing in general —is too data-driven and does not accurately judge each student's performance.