by: Dr. Desmomd Blackburn, Brevard Public Schools superintendent
October 1, 2015|Florida Today
In the two months since I became the new superintendent of Brevard Public Schools, I have spent numerous hours engaging in dialogue with the citizens of this county —hearing of their pride in our accomplishments and learning about the challenges they feel I should address. One item that has resonated from every sector of the county is a resounding dissatisfaction with the testing and accountability system that negatively impacts students, teachers and administrators.
This dissatisfaction has been raised by voices throughout the state. As a result, the Florida Legislature put a halt to using data from the new Florida State Assessment and required the Department of Education to validate the test through a third party. The results, released earlier this month, did not validate the assessment to accurately measure student performance. In fact, the study conducted by Alpine said: “The precise magnitude of the problem is difficult to gauge with 100 percent accuracy, but the evaluation team can reasonably state that the spring 2015 administration of the FSA did not meet the normal rigor and standardization expected with a high-stakes assessment program like the FSA.”
Last week at the Florida Association of District School Superintendent’s meeting, superintendents from across the state met with Department of Education Commissioner Pam Stewart to voice a continued concern with the validity of the FSA. At the conclusion of our meeting, we drafted four key recommendations we believe are necessary to protect our students and staff from unreliable data and the high-stakes ramifications associated with unreliable results. These include:
•1. Suspend any application of the results from the spring 2015 administration of the FSA to teachers and schools.
•2. Issue an “Incomplete” to all Florida schools for 2014-15 because of flawed data and significant issues with the initial administration of the FSA. When faced with similar challenges, states such as Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have taken similar measures during their baseline year.
•3. Reject the concept that Florida’s standards align with levels assessed on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. In fact, a Q&A on the NAEP website confirms the lack of alignment.
Q: Does NAEP replace the state tests that my child takes every year?
A: No. Most state tests measure student performance using the state’s own curriculum standards (i.e., what the state considers important for its students to know).
The purpose of each of these assessments are clearly different.
•4. Complete a thorough evaluation of the current accountability system, looking at a historical snapshot of the numerous changes that have occurred over the past few years and focus efforts to ensure a year’s growth is considered as a learning gain.
Students and staff are not the only ones who will be negatively impacted by the current accountability program. The continued use of this flawed system will have adverse economic impact on Florida’s communities; negatively impacting our ability to attract new business to the state and Brevard County. We cannot let this continue.
Be certain that we are not advocating for the elimination of accountability. We believe in accountability to ensure that our students receive the best possible education we can provide. Also be assured that I will continue to work alongside my fellow superintendents to engage all stakeholders and the DOE in the development of a viable accountability system that will again be a model for the nation.
I ask you to join me in this important process by letting your representatives and the Florida State School Board know you support the recommendations made by Florida’s 67 superintendents.
Contact information for our legislative delegation and State School Board members can be found on our website at: www.brevardschools.org.
Read article here.
Please support our work.
Join us. Stay informed.