Bill Gates knows a thing or two about product development. So when the Microsoft billionaire’s foundation recommends that states wait at least two years before assigning high-stakes consequences to new Common Core State Standards testing schemes, Tallahassee should listen.
Maintaining Florida’s already discredited school grading scheme simply for continuity’s sake makes no sense. A change as big and as important as Common Core requires more time for transition without the stress that potentially flawed assessments will lead to unjust consequences.
Comments from Gates’ foundation this week echo what Florida educators have been saying for the past year amid the state’s bungled efforts to adopt a new battery of standardized tests to align with Florida Standards, the state’s version of Common Core. The so-called subject tests have the potential to be far more palatable than the loathed FCAT they will replace, but only if the state gets them right. And so far, there’s little reason for confidence. Florida abruptly succumbed to pressure from tea party critics in September and pulled out of a multistate consortium that was creating tests. That forced the Department of Education to adopt a rushed test-adoption plan, one that will provide no time for field testing before students take them next spring.