Florida politicians, Governor Scott and his appointed Board of Education expect every parent to rely on blind faith and believe that their child’s test score is true. Our children are the only people who ever see these tests. Teachers and administrators are held to a hostile and humiliating security process that screams, “we don’t trust you!” Children are forced to repeatedly sign an oath swearing not to cheat. They’re badgered not to discuss the test, even with their Moms and Dads.
No one is allowed to see the test or look at the answer sheets, so there’s no way of knowing if the score the computer spits out truly belongs to your child. Why are we wasting years of instruction time teaching to a test no one can ever see?
Parents learn whether the state views their child as a success or failure based on a test score of 1,2,3,4, or 5. For some this means the devastation of automatic grade retention, a proven drop out predictor. The state of Florida is happy to mete out a life altering catastrophic punishment to a very young child based on a single score that no one can prove is real.
Fast forward to high school and the stakes have the power to destroy lives. Students can have an A average, be accomplished musicians and community leaders, but if they don’t score a 3 or higher on the Florida Standards Assessment, they will be thrown into hours of remedial classes and lose all access to important college-related electives. Every year Florida keeps tens of thousands of students from moving into adulthood by denying high school diplomas based on a single high stakes test score that may not be real.
The Florida testing game is fixed. Goals and rules are changed on a whim. The same kids almost always score a 1 or a 2. The Florida Department of Education can predict scores before our children ever take the test. It should come as no surprise that every child’s test booklet has a bar code. The data contained on that bar code is a mini dossier of who that child is: status as a free/reduced lunch student, zip code, ESE status, race, gender, English language learner, etc. Before ever scoring a child’s test, the computer reads this personal identifying information.
Florida has been obsessed with sorting children for years, so it follows that the tests get sorted too. Is there a link to a child’s bar code information and how well they score? Given the atmosphere of secrecy, there’s a good chance that a child who belongs to a group who is predicted to perform a certain way will end up with a score that reflects that prediction.
The Florida statutes empower Florida’s high stakes testing and accountability scheme with thousands of ways to hurt our children and harm their teachers. Every single one of them is based on a single test score that not one of us can prove is true.
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