The politics of extreme ideology has turned Florida public education into a testing factory. Unwilling to accept any responsibility for hyper-testing, politicians and reformers blame school districts. A prominent education reformer recently told the press, “They really need to look inward,” insinuating that districts are the reason for too many tests. If our school districts had the authority to “look inward” and alter state laws they’d surely bring a swift end to Florida’s shameful era of testing abuse.
The Florida Legislature alone is responsible for the statewide public backlash against the expensive and often high-stakes tests plaguing our children. They built Florida’s flawed A-F school accountability scheme by passing a hodgepodge of laws meant to discredit public education in favor of for profit charters and private school vouchers. Thanks to these politicians, many districts are testing 80 out of 180 school days to satisfy a state manufactured hunger for data.
District testing calendars reveal that in addition to the new Florida State Assessments (FSA), there are months of state required benchmark, formative and progress monitoring tests. In certain schools designated as low performing the state requires 12 additional tests per student, which means three each in reading, writing, mathematics and science. Testing windows can be weeks in length and are often expanded by make-up weeks. The result is a profound loss of classroom instruction time made worse by repeated interruptions as students are pulled for make-up testing.