Tuesday, June 26, 2012

More Tests to Come

Today, there is an article in the Orlando Sentinel about the ever increasing role of people known as "psychometricians" in public education. In a day when state governments are claiming to reduce spending, districts are forced to create new positions to implement education laws passed by the legislature. Of course, the bill didn't come with a check.

Due to the passage of Florida's HB 736, dubbed the Student Success Act or merit pay, teachers must be evaluated in part by the performance of their students on standardized tests. 

The merit-pay rule calls for half of a teacher's evaluation to be based on students' standardized-test scores. Districts have used mostly FCAT scores for that purpose, even for teachers who don't teach FCAT-related subjects.
Because of the rule, districts are banding together and scrambling to create dozens of assessments to help grade teachers in subjects where no standardized test exists.

Current reform supporters claim that the state has reduced the amount of time students spend in standardized testing, and one reformer has gone so far as to blame districts for testing that exceeds what the state requires. Well, if everything about a school's worth and value is going to depend on the results of one standardized test, I'm sure those districts are going to do their best to administrator pre/post tests to predict students' performance on the big exam. Furthermore, I don't see how the state claims it is reducing the amount of tests when it is now requiring districts to create dozens of tests for subjects like art, computer science, physical education, music, etc. that are not currently tested. These tests will pose no consequences upon the students who do not perform well, and they will reduce classes known for physical performance to classes that focus merely on memorizing information that will appear on the test. 

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