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Executive Order Tests Teacher Patience


Teachers are overwhelmed, parents are up in arms and Governor Rick Scott’s executive order suspending a high school exam doesn’t do much.

That’s the message from the state’s largest teachers union as it calls for a statewide moratorium on high stakes testing.

Florida Education Association President Andy Ford says Scott’s order ignores fundamental problems. He says tests are flawed, their results don’t come fast enough to do much good and testing takes time and resources that could be devoted to instruction.

“And how the heck are we actually using this data to improve instruction?”

Some 20,000 teachers and parents responded to an FEA survey about standardized testing and the results are telling, FEA vice president Joanne McCall says.

“And this is what our teachers said. Fifty seven percent gave testing an “F.” Thirty two percent gave it a “D” grade.”

Small wonder Scott and the Legislature have vowed to overhaul standardized testing this session. Parents are fuming about an increase in the number of testing days, which in some cases have gone up by 30.

Leon County Schools testing and research director Gillian Gregory says the district has added fifth, sixth, seventh, and ninth grade standardized testing on top of fourth, eighth and tenth.

“Our parents and our students are certainly feeling the pressure of more testing this year, more days of testing and a level of anxiety and stress that they’re not used to experiencing associated with the state assessment program.

Ford says the union is also concerned about districts writing final exams for every grade, including kindergarten.

A Miami native, former WFSU reporter Jim Ash is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, most of it in print. He has been a member of the Florida Capital Press Corps since 1992.