FLORIDA PTA’S STATEMENT ON TESTING

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(From press release: 3-3-15)

Florida PTA is not surprised by the events that occurred with the opening day of testing yesterday. There have been warnings to the legislature that these, amongst other mishaps, may occur.

Over the past several years, Florida’s system of educational accountability has been in a state of perpetual flux. Numerous accountability changes along with the implementation of yet another new test, the Florida Standards Assessment, is resulting in uncertainty and angst among students, parents, teachers and community members. Students across the state faced serious technical problems while trying to take this new high stakes test.

Florida PTA believes that valid assessment does not consist of only a single test score, and that at no time should a single test be considered the sole determinant of a student’s academic or work future. PTA believes that student assessments should identify how instruction and learning can be improved and should be used to help parents and teachers determine the specific academic needs of students and increase opportunities for student learning.

The multiple problems our students experienced this week while trying to take this new high stakes test has done little to help our students improve academically. As a way forward, to end the confusion Florida PTA recommends that the Florida Department of Education and the state:

  • Allow for proper field-testing and test development in areas with similar demographics to Florida’s diverse demographics;
  • Suspend the issuance of school letter grades until performance data has been deemed reliable;
  • Allow additional testing and calculation flexibility to students with disabilities and students who speak limited English;
  • Consider using multiple years of a new exam as a baseline for generating school grades and teacher evaluations.

The simple suggestions mentioned above represent Florida PTAs ongoing advocacy efforts for a fair educational accountability and assessment process, which effectively informs and improves teaching and learning.

Without a reasonable transitional time to adapt to additional new accountability standards and without a fair calculation of accountability grades, the future of our children will remain in flux and the viability of Florida’s accountability system will remain in question.

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Florida PTA comprises hundreds of thousands of families, students, teachers, administrators and business and community leaders devoted to improving the lives of children/youth in our state. PTA is the oldest and largest child advocacy association in the state of Florida, as well as the nation. PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children. More information is available by contacting Florida PTA (407/855-7604 or executive.director@floridapta.org).

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