FEDS NO LONGER TO BLAME. President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law, finally replacing No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which mandated high-stakes testing, penalized schools, devalued teachers and narrowed learning by focusing solely on math and reading scores. The ESSA removes much of NCLB, returning the responsibility for ensuring education quality back to the states. Don’t celebrate yet. This does not mean that high-stakes, unproven “reforms” and privatizing public education are gone. It means that state legislatures can no longer blame the federal government. It means saving Florida public education is all about the people we send to Tallahassee.
INSULAR, LARGELY UNQUALIFIED STATE EDUCATION OFFICIALS. The Florida Board of Education will arbitrarily set FSA cut scores this January. Commissioner Pam Stewart thinks they should mirror school grades from the 2014 FCAT. Board of Education members John Padget and Gary Chartrand think they should be set high, triggering an alarming spike in D and F schools and failing scores for students. There is no baseline, no way to determine learning gains and no proof of reliability. Remember, the commissioner and Board of Education are all appointed positions. This insular, largely unqualified circle ignores parents, superintendents, school boards and teachers at their own peril. Florida’s A-F school grades are not real.