In a statement issued today, the Florida Association of District School Superintendents (FADSS) issued a strong statement opposing the testing and accountability system. Citing the recently released validity study acknowledgment that the Florida Standards Assessment “did not meet the normal rigor and standardization expected of a high stakes program like the FSA”, FADSS issued the following recommendations:
- Suspend all applications of the FSA assessment results.
- Issue an ‘I’ if necessary for all school grades.
- Reject the concept that the Florida Standards mirror the levelschoos of the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP). NAEP acknowledges that its results are not appropriate for evaluating individual schools.
- Conduct an extensive review of the accountability system and its multiple changes giving special attention to the achievement gain concept that a year’s growth (in scores) is considered a learning gain.
FADSS advocates that a new, viable accountability system be developed. The components of such a system are not outlined. The issues are complex. Not only is the testing and accountability system displacing instructional time, it is expensive, and fraught with problems. Over the last several years, the formulas used to calculate student, teacher, and school achievement change frequently. They were due to change again this year. The current system is flawed.
The dilemma will be how to identify ‘at risk schools’ and provide support to improve learning without the pressure of annual testing and grading of schools. Current policies, however, do more to identify problems than they do to correct them. The State provides some funding for an extra hour of reading for the 300 lowest scoring schools. This, in itself, is grossly inadequate. Hopefully, the State Department of Education and the districts will employ the critical thinking and problem solving skills needed to find an effective approach to educating all children. Then, it will be up to the legislature to recognize that change is needed.