Testing is still not teaching

This week Education Week announced its Quality Counts State Report Card. Florida received a “B-“ and was ranked 6th nationally so immediately the usual suspects engaged in the typical self adulation.

I don’t relish being the guy that is constantly throwing cold water on the party, but a closer read of the report shows all is not well. You see the report grades the 50 states on a variety of education areas and where Florida did well is not nearly as important as where we tanked.

The report gave Florida top grades for its accountability and assessments. In other words, we were top notch in the amount of testing we have in our schools. This should come as no surprise to Florida teachers who seem forced to spend more time giving tests than actually teaching coursework.

But testing is not teaching and, in fact, in the category of “achievement” Florida was subpar. We earned a “C-“ because too many of kids are not proficient in math or reading, and our state’s graduation rate was ranked 44th in the nation.

Of course you get what you pay for and, indeed, our poor achievement score was very close to the “D+” we received in funding education. According to the Education Week report Florida ranks near the bottom in every relevant education spending metric.

So before we uncork too many champagne bottles, Floridians should know that the failure of Governor Scott and the legislature to adequately support public schools has created a real achievement deficit in our state. Getting straight A’s for having lots of tests is not the same as getting A’s on the tests. Weighing a malnourished dog every day doesn’t make him any better.

Until folks in Tallahassee understand that testing is not teaching, we will continue to celebrate mediocrity at the expense of true achievement.