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Florida Department of Education Fights Criticisms of FSA Validity Study

September 17, 2015 - 4:30pm

The Florida Department of Education is working overtime to “set the record straight” about recent results of the validity study of the Florida Standards Assessment, saying some people have misinterpreted the study’s results.

Earlier this month, Utah-based Alpine Testing Solutions and Washington D.C.-based edCount concluded the FSA was a valid tool for measuring student achievement in Florida; the results have become the center of controversy.

In response, the department sent out an email Thursday attempting to dispel misinterpretations about the study’s results. The email follows several phone calls from the department to Sunshine State News, in which staff members attempted to explain specific portions of the study results.

Critics of the results honed in on several parts of the report which said the department did not fully review all items of the FSA. Alpine Testing recommended phasing out some of the test’s content because it aligned to Utah standards and was left in the FSA.

“While alignment to Florida standards was confirmed for the majority of items reviewed via the item review study, many were not confirmed, usually because these items focused on slightly different content within the same anchor standards,” they wrote. “It would be more appropriate to phase out the items originally developed for use in Utah and replace them with items written to specifically target the Florida standards.”

FDOE said for all but three out of the 386 total items, external reviewers identified connection to a standard that appeared on the Florida test blueprints, which define test content.

“This affirms that the FSA accurately measures students’ knowledge of Florida's content standards,” read the department’s email.

FDOE also disputed claims that the FSA wasn’t suitable for Florida students because it was originally written with Utah-based education standards in mind, saying all items were reviewed for appropriateness to Florida standards.

The study was the center of the Senate Education Pre-K-12 Committee, which met Thursday afternoon.

Representatives from both Alphine and edCount came to explain the results and answer questions from state lawmakers on exactly how they reached their conclusions.

Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, called the department’s email saying people had misinterpreted the results “offensive.”

“At the risk of one more time saying that the superintendents ... or staff ... have misrepresented the fact, it seems like you may even have some questions too about the report itself," he said.

Senators had many questions for Alpine’s Andrew Wylie, who said the companies were put on a strict timetable to complete the study since it had to be completed in a three-month timeframe.

“There was a very aggressive timeline set at the beginning of the process,” Wylie said.

Wylie admitted that although Alpine had done validity testing before, the testing company had never reviewed a statewide assessment.

Ultimately, Wylie said the results seemed to indicate the test was still on par with Florida standards.

“While the review process was not ideal ... it still was consistent with the test standards,” he said. “Content-wise, I think the content matches the standards at an appropriate level.”

Wylie admitted, however, there was “rigorous debate” on the study’s results.

“This was not an easy decision,” he said.

Commissioner Pam Stewart said the department looked over two drafts of Alpine's study and briefly reviewed the final results around 5 p.m. Aug. 31, the day before the study results were released. While department officials didn't have any specific influence over the study's conclusions, the department did request to improve some aspects of the document, which was done via telephone.

See the DOE’s “claim check” email here.


Reach Allison Nielsen by email at



The only thing this $600,000 study determined; is that the test designers AIR used mostly acceptable policies and procedures to create a flawed test that Florida should NOT use to pass or fail students, which exactly is what the FDOE bought it for. The FINAL CONCLUSION under the final report Cross-Study Conclusions on page 120 and on page 9 of Executive summary Conclusion #7 –Use of FSA Scores for Student-Level Decisions “Therefore, test scores should not be used as a sole determinant in decisions such as the prevention of advancement to the next grade, graduation eligibility, or placement into a remedial course. “ The study goes on to say in Conclusion 8 that it is OK to use them for part of the grade and for 100% for teacher evaluations and school grades, no matter what problems occurred Apparently if a student fails because a flawed assessment that up makes 30% of their grade, it’s OK, as long as it is not the sole determinant. However, all you teachers and principles that lose your jobs over this partially valid assessment or if you had students that had problems with AIR’s delivery of the tests; Too bad, you are out of luck. Look at the bright side, we still pay AIR who still data mines our children with their assessments and we still have common core in Florida!

"Trapper", you should be a carpenter,.. you keep "hitting the nail right on the head"!

Aw, pshaw and shucks. But it seems so obvious. We have about a kajillion illegal Mexicans in the country and they are in our schools. Instead of not allowing them, we hire people that can speak Spanish. Horse manure! The teachers union is about as powerful as the Teamsters used to be. And just as corrupt. Take a look at the head of the union and see how they are doing. Any day now you will hear that Chicago is filing for bankruptcy. Teachers in Chicago make around $110,000 /yr. Work 20 years and get 90% of it for the rest of your life. Chicago needs to come up with a quick $500 million to meet payroll for retired cops and firefighters .Rahm the Hammer wants to double property taxes. Imagine that. Maybe it is time for us to reconsider "poor houses". No wonder Trump is surging.

This is a good example of our government helping us. A Utah based....a Washington DC based...bottom line is that the kids can't read, write or do simple arithmetic. Christ alone knows how much money has been pissed away on this nonsense. Seems like if you are white and come from a family with two parents that care about your education, money is not that significant. You learn to read and write. If you are black and one of nine kids bred by crack addicted Mom that works from 11pm till around dawn, well, your chances are not that good. But when did it become my problem? Why do I have to feed your brats? We all feed them now - free food cards. I am splurging on angus ground chuck hamburger for $9/lb, they load up on $16 / lb in the family pack. Purely pisses you off. Free breakfast and lunch if they make it to school. Special this and special that. Horse manure. They are YOUR kids, YOU take care of them. If you can't take care of them DON"T HAVE THEM. Of course, this will have a negative impact on cash flow and most folks in that boat can do that much simple math. Hooey on all this ridiculous testing. Keep computers out of schools till after eighth grade. A blackboard, chalk and erasers. Fire 75% of the administration. One principal and teachers. MAKE the little urchins read, write and do simple arithmetic. Some of them will flock to it like a duck on a June bug. Others will have to be driven. But by the time they are 13 we will see where the bear did his business in the buckwheat. Not only are most of them illiterate now, they don't who we fought in the Revolutionary War. Or who won. I don't know anything about education - but feel I could do better than this. Certainly someone could.

Trapper, public education is not about kids learning stuff. It is about making them dependent on a big government nanny state. In the case of Florida it’s about creating constant change which causes constant profits for companies who support a certain former Florida Governor who wants to be President. Common Core is the ultimate money machine with the added benefit of enslaving the next generation of Americans. Do not expect them to do something silly like arithmetic. The sum of two numbers must be arrived at by a conciseness of children prevented from using the standard algorithms. So you are not paying for feeding and teaching kids, as much as you are paying for feeding more power to politicians so they can teach you to stop thinking and start obeying.

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