State Assessments Are Destroying Education In Florida

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State of Florida assessments and political motives are destroying education in Florida. The only way to stop the destruction of our children’s education is to let our elected officials know that we will no longer put up with it. Let's be clear. Teachers, staff, and administrators are doing what they can in an overbearing Government dictated public school system. They work endless hours trying to educate our young people to become productive members of society. There are many educators leaving the field and very few entering. This is not because these teachers and potential teachers don’t have a passion for teaching but because of the endless burdens that are dictated by our federal and state government that show no evidence of improving learning. It is also due to the vast amount of stress caused by these tests and how they impact teachers and schools. One of the largest barriers to student learning is assessments. Some may say how does testing a student limit their learning? The answer is twofold. According to Politifact,

Florida students spend up to 45 days a year taking standardized tests. (Think about this. If 45 days are being used for testing, the amount of hours that teachers, counselors, staff, and administrators are using to plan and proctor these tests falls in the realm of insanity.) When can these educators do what they are hired to do? This is an incredible amount of time for students to be out of the classroom missing instruction. The disappointing part is that the greatest numbers of students out of the classroom are the lowest quartile academically. These students need the most help and instead we test and retest these students. In fact, this week alone (10/19/15), students who did not pass the test the first time were tested for three days straight on the FSA Retakes. These students missed on average 120 minutes of classroom instruction each day for three days. That means that they are three days behind everyone else this week and since they are already behind academically the problem continues to compound. There is a large probability that these same students will take this same test again at least 2 more times, which is six more days out of the classroom on this one test alone. The state and federal government claim that schools need all this data. The data is so manipulated and invalid that it is difficult for schools to do anything with it. Florida DOE just concluded that the FSA was a valid test yet they are suing the company that developed the test because of multiple testing issues during the administration of it. If there were enough problems to pursue a lawsuit, how can the test at the same time be valid? As of October 2015, test levels have yet to be established. What is going on? Students need to be in class where the teachers can teach and the students can learn. They do not need to be in a lab where there are constant problems with the computerized administration of these placating assessments. The majority of Superintendents agree that these tests are flawed.

The second reason these assessments are destroying education is the cost. The state is not spending your tax dollars adding teachers to classrooms or helping the high poverty schools with extra resources. Instead, millions of dollars are spent on testing. Imagine what can be done at the school level if these dollars went directly to each school. To give you an idea of the costs of these assessments is the FLDOE requests. I encourage every tax payer to look at this, especially pages 245-248.

OTHER K-12 ASSESSMENTS - $31,606,682  $7,864,693 - English Language Proficiency/WIDA - Will measure the English proficiency and progress of approximately 262,933 English Language Learners.  $2,298,588 - Florida Assessments for Instructions in Reading (FAIR) and Progress Monitoring and Reporting Network (PMRN). FAIR is a comprehensive computer adaptive assessment for approximately 1.3 million K-12 students designed to predict students’ literacy success, diagnose weaknesses, set instructional objectives, and monitor literacy growth. PMRN is provided to all public schools on a voluntary basis and is used to provide reports on FAIR testing. The PMRN is a web-based data management system for facilitating the use of reading/language arts data readily and securely to inform instructional decisions.  $17,039,014 - Florida Alternate Assessment - Measures and reports the achievement of approximately 25,000

Florida Department of Education Page 247 of 310 FY 2016-17 Legislative Budget Request students with significant cognitive disabilities.  $2,645,000 - Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT)/Preliminary American College Test (PLAN) - Measures the readiness of approximately 170,578 10th grade students for advanced coursework.  $869,387 - Florida Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (FLKRS)- Provides products and services necessary for the implementation of a kindergarten readiness assessment, the Work Sampling System (WWS) and the Florida Assessments for Instruction in Reading (FAIR). FLKRS is required of all kindergarten students during the first 30 days of school in compliance with section 1002.69, F.S. This program serves approximately 1.3 million students.

 $780,000 - Value Added Model - Models designed to measure student learning growth using standardized statewide assessments and the impact of a teacher on student learning.  $110,000 - Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) Assessment - Measures and reports the achievement of approximately 10,624 students placed in the DJJ.

These assessments do not included the six year $220,000,000 contract Florida has with the American Institute of Research for the FSA. As stated earlier, the state is currently suing them yet continues to say the contract and costs are fine.

Remarkably, all these testing windows overlap to some extent. So students are taking multiple tests for proficiency. For example, an elementary ELL student will take the FSA, WIDA, and MAP assessments in the last quarter of school. This alone accounts for 9 days of lost instruction. 121 days of open test windows in elementary school alone out of 180 instructional school days (This is 67% of the school year.)

If you agree that Florida is over testing our children and want to eliminate the exorbitant amount of testing so that students can stay in the classroom so they can learn and teachers can teach then please sign this petition.

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