FCAT debacle proves change in order

Today’s announcement that over 70% of Florida students failed the newly calibrated writing FCAT
means either our school system has horrible problems teaching, or our Department of Education is filled with idiots. Either way, change is in order.

Florida’s overemphasis on testing is insane. We have become a school system whose entire purpose seems to be to prepare kids for minimal competence tests. But testing is not teaching, and Florida’s singular reliance on the FCAT is proving to be extremely destructive to a school system that was already floundering from funding neglect. This episode is but one of a litany, and our Education Commissioner, frankly, seems not up to the job.

This week millions of school children will tragically believe they failed an exam that is portrayed as the most important measure of a Florida student. But the failure will not be
theirs, but that of the legislature, governor and education commissioner who have let them down. How does a Governor who sought a $1.5 billion public education cut his first year in office argue with a straight face that he wants to “raise the bar.” And what does this say about
the legislature’s mad rush to tie teacher salaries directly to test scores that seem situational at best.

Education Week ranks Florida as having more tests and measurements than nearly any state, but our high school graduation rate is still abysmal, and half our graduating seniors need remediation in college. You can weigh a malnourished dog every day – that doesn’t improve its

I suspect the Board of Education will direct the Commissioner to recalibrate the writing FCAT to avoid individually informing most of Florida’s school kids that they failed. Hopefully, this episode will, once again, cause folks to rethink the sad organizing principle of Florida schools – that testing is some how teaching.

The FCAT is not a solution, it’s a test.