Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Testing Comes to Pre-K in Florida

Florida will begin testing Pre-K students this school year. As with the standardized tests for older children, this is brewing similar controversy amongst the mostly privately-run Pre-K schools. Here's an excerpt from the Orlando Sentinel:

Youngsters in Florida's pre-kindergarten program this month will take a new test of early literacy, language and math skills, sitting one-on-one with their teachers to answer questions and point to pictures. 
The kids are to take the Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Assessment again at the end of their pre-K year —hopefully showing improvement on how well they identify letters, count objects and answer questions.
The test can be presented to 4-year-olds as a time "to play a quick game," but it is designed to assess key academic skills and predict later school success. 
More than 180,000 children are expected to take the new test, which will have no consequences for individual youngsters but eventually will be used to help judge the quality of their preschools. 
Advocates say the test will help preschool teachers change lessons as needed and will help preschools document student growth. In a state pushing to boost public-school performance, making sure preschoolers are on track is part of an overall improvement strategy. 
But the test's introduction, required by the Florida Legislature, has prompted criticism from the private preschools and child-care centers that run most of Florida's pre-K program and the local agencies that help administer it. The Early Learning Advisory Council even wrote Gov. Rick Scott this summer, asking him to halt the new test.
Some dislike that the test does not assess the full range of the state's pre-K standards, which also include emotional, physical and social development. 
The council's letter, for example, complained that it ignored other areas "critical for school success." And it argued that the test focuses on a "very narrow skill set" that would lead to "poor instruction that is inappropriate for young children."
Like the FCAT, Pre-K centers are complaining about inadequate funding, finding time to administer the test effectively, and the test's emphasis on assessing a limited range of academic standards. I imagine that Pre-K still will eventually be placed under similar accountability regulations as K-12 schools. One surprising thing is that the state is doing this to a mostly private-run system. Why can't they apply these same standards to K-12 charter and private schools to which they want to send public dollars?

No comments:

Post a Comment