When the Florida Department of Education suspended the K-2 FAIR test and blamed “computer glitches” it raised more questions than it answered. For starters, who can deny the impact of kindergarten teacher Susan Bowles refusing to give the FAIR test to her students? Second, how does this test move so easily from being the law to suspended for the rest of the year? We’ve been down this road before with FCAT Writes, manipulating cut scores and creating emergency safety nets to spare our children from legislated chaos.
Dire on-line testing problems have plagued the FAIR Test since its debut in 2009. Ask any teacher or superintendent. Unwilling to face the facts, the Department of Education spent millions of tax dollars over the past five years failing at “fixing” this mess. Privately teachers call it the “un-FAIR” test because it robs kids of three precious weeks of instruction time.
It’s laudable that Commissioner Stewart decided to liberate our children from such a time consuming, troublesome and expensive test. The Department of Education, with all of its highly paid experts and consultants, has never once administered the FAIR test or any other online assessment without serious computer problems. How in the world will this same department handle hundreds of thousands of new on-line Florida State Assessments this spring?
It’s laughable that Gov. Scott is earnestly calling for a “thorough investigation of all standardized tests” when he’s the one who eagerly signed SB 736 mandating a high stakes standardized test for every K-12 course. Wasn’t this the exact topic of Scott’s 2013 Education Accountability Summit which he famously chose not to attend?
Scott’s Summit concluded with no new input even considered. Attendees like Sen. John Thrasher, currently interviewing for president of Florida State University, jumped up on cue to vehemently oppose any changes to Florida’s A-F Accountability system.
Why is Florida sticking to a broken accountability system where children are subjected to 80 days of testing during 180 days of school? Test vendors with fat wallets are now more important than teachers and children.