Lee County Becomes First District to Opt Out of Standardized Tests

By: Allison Nielsen | Posted: August 28, 2014 10:00 AM
Standardized test

Lee County made a big move against a significant aspect of Florida's education system Wednesday evening, when it became the first district in the state to opt out of standardized testing.

The decision, said the School Board, would be effective immediately.

Hundreds filled the Lee County School Board meeting room to voice their thoughts and concerns on testing, which has been the subject of intense criticism in recent months.

The 3-2 decision to break away from the state's standardized testing movement brought both cheers and hesitation from parents and district officials.

Before the board reached its decision, Lee Schools Superintendent Nancy Graham warned against the repercussions of opting out of tests, which have played a significant role in Florida's education system for the last 16 years.

"This will hurt children. There is no way around it," Graham said. "I am gravely concerned about the decision that was made tonight, and I'll try to make sense of this."

The School Board had toyed with the idea at a meeting earlier this month and vowed to bring the idea to a vote.

Tensions ran high as those more hesitant on opting out expressed concern over the decision.

The News Press reported board member Jeanne Dozier was met with fierce opposition from the audience after she requested to put a hold on the decision until a more concrete plan was decided.

Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, R-Fort Myers, also advocated for making sure the district had a plan before making any quick decisions.

"I'm all about bold, innovative thinking. But at the same time, I don't want us to do something without a plan in place," she said. "Testing is high stakes, life is high stakes."

The audience booed Fitzenhagen's comments.

Standardized testing is required under Florida law. The pertinent Florida statute reads, "Participation in the assessment program is mandatory for all school districts."

But the repercussions of Lee County's decision to opt out of testing are not yet clear. It's possible the district could lose state funding as part of its refusal to participate in testing -- and if the district doesn't participate in the statewide assessment, it would also be unable to be a part of the state's "A" to "F" grading system.

To opponents of high-stakes testing, Wednesday's decision came as a sign their efforts were headed in the right direction.

"I am eternally grateful for the many groups and individuals who made this happen," Chris Quackenbush of Stop Common Core FL wrote. "We are hoping other school districts in Florida and across the nation will be part of a chain of dominos that will show we can stand up to the powerful machine standing against us and our children."

Sunshine State News contacted the Florida Department of Education to discuss the decision, but they had not returned calls as of the release of this story.  

Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen via email at or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen.

Comments (4)

Michael DuBois
8:59AM AUG 29TH 2014
How is this going to make our schools better? This seems like a politically motivated stunt. Having our school system on par with the rest of the state (and country) only makes common sense. YES we need Common Core, and standardized testing. Our children will be competing for educational opportunities and ultimately careers with others from throughout the country (and the world). Our schools need to meet the educational rigors of the new millennium. DON'T set our schools back to the 1970s.
11:39PM AUG 28TH 2014
My question would be where the detractors to standardized testing were when No Child Left Behind was instituted.
the Bush monopoly of our youth's education
9:30AM AUG 29TH 2014

They were standing in the halls and corridors twiddling their thumbs not realizing just how organized the Bush dynasty really was. then suddenly it dawned on them Neil Bush, Mom & Pop, that Saudi Muslim Prince Bush friend along with the Russian mobster all involved in IGNITE LEARNING! and collecting millions from brother George's NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND.

And the same goes for Brother Barry who pumped millions into Common Core education in his 2009 Stimulus package, then along come RACE TO THE TOP more Common Core funding.

Mush of it grabbed up by the Gulen Muslim Charter school friends and here in Florida former Bush Omen abmassador and Muslim Charter school developer GARY GRAPPO.

That's were all the detractor's were! Now they are doing the homework, taking names, dates, places and times. Follow the money and follow those stinky little corporate docs.
the Bush monopoly of our youth's education
4:11PM AUG 28TH 2014
Common Core, push for Chartering our public schools and Jeb Bush’s control on education of our youth!

Just today another lawsuit has been filed alleging Jeb Bush’s VOUCHER schemes to fund his Charter School friends (many of them Gulen Muslim) is unconstitutional. Jeb Bush and his cronies copyrighted COMMON CORE so with their Pearson Publishinng friends they would have a monopoly.

A monopoly is when one person or company has overwhelming control of a certain sector of business. Monopolies have a negative effect on the economy. They destroy competition, which benefits consumers by providing a choice of products — that in turn stimulates creativeness and helps to control product cost.

Many laws have been written to control monopolies. Fortunately the federal government forbids monopolies in the commercial sector, however it has a different set of rules to govern it’s own “Single Option Programs” — such as the one soon to be adopted in a school near you, the “Common Core’ Curriculum.”

This method of teaching is just as it’s name suggests: Common Core Curriculum will in fact become the common standard for all schools. This in itself denotes ‘Common Core’ as a monopoly — and what has the government stated about the effects of monopolies on creativeness, choice, and cost?

Common Core was attached to the state’s so-called stimulus money in 2009. Despite the fact that standards for Common Core were not even written at that time, quite a few states signed up for stimulus money, which included the Common Core — another example of “Ya gotta pass it so you can see what’s in it.”

Now that many of the states have wiped the lipstick off this pig, more than 18 States have or are in the process of rejecting Common Core Standards and many more are rethinking their decisions.

Working behind the scenes, implementing policies and writing the standards are associates from President Obama’s community organizing days. In de facto control of the education component is Linda Darling-Hammond, considered by many as a radical left-wing educator along with one of it’s prime advocates William “Bill” Ayers, the former leader of the home grown terrorist style “Weather Underground” who is now a professor of education and a close friend of President Obama.

What’s Ayers’ message? Ayres seeks to overthrow the United States by using our children against us. Ayers’ wants Americans to become global citizens, free of the U.S. Constitution and traditional values. It appears his message has little to do with education reform and everything to do with using teachers and schools as change agents for socialist indoctrination. Ayers’ is very open about his intent and has voiced these objectives publically on many occasions.

Should individuals charged with participating in terrorist style organizations be allowed to direct your child’s or grandchild’s education?

The federal government is collecting a database on America’s children including students healthcare histories, family income information, voting status, blood types and religious affiliations. Through the stimulus, American’s privacy has been increasingly compromised. Permission has been given to release students’ personal records — permissions that once had to be granted by parents. This right to privacy was taken away in January 2012 by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, which now allows all information collected by schools since 2009 to be shared among federal agencies without parental consent.

American Classics as “Catcher in the Rye,” “To Kill a Mocking Bird,” “Tom Sawyer” and others are being replaced, in some cases, with EPA manuals. Reference Books associated with the first satellite put in orbit by Russia are recommended and yet nothing about the first moon walk by the US. The Gettysburg address is taught out of context, with no association to the Civil War and its true meaning.

Nationwide, all taxes collected for the purpose of education will be redistributed to equalize educational opportunity. In other words, schools that are run efficiently in NC could have their funds taken away and given to some union-heavy, bloated bureaucratic school system in another state.

A panel of unelected bureaucrats will be determining school curriculum. Your child’s education will be predetermined by the needs of the marketplace and the invasive data that defines the individual. In other words, your child will be educated to fill the projected needs of the common good despite what the parent’s or child’s preferences are.

Indications are that Common Core was initially created by a “DC Progressive Trade Association” without any states involvement until much later. Common Core was also said to have had international comparisons for uniform compatibility. Was this actually done? If so, then where is the data? Word is that only one country was given a relatively small test for compatibility with Common Core.

Nothing indicates that Common Core has ever been field tested in the United States — kinda like The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Many states already have curriculum standards that are as good or better than Common Core. Some say this is not a “Race to the Top” but rather a “Race to the Middle.”

The US Dept. Of Education was created by President Carter’s administration in 1979 and became law in 1980. Other than writing block grants for failing school systems, many say its abolishment would not have any effect on our countries school systems whatsoever. The opinion of many educators is that they are in favor of returning control of our school systems to the state, and local governments as it is written in our Constitution.

Remember how F.D.R. sold Social Security to the American people? All your money will be collected and saved for you, with interest. Two years later, F.D.R. started spending your retirement savings. And how the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, has turned out to be completely different from what was initially sold to the American people. In business, this type of unfulfilled obligation would be considered a breach of contract or even fraud and when encountered, legal action would be in order.

Are we again being forced to adopt yet another government program in order to find out what’s in it? Or do we say: “Control of Florida Education by Real Floridians NOT under the influence of Jeb Bush and his bush whackers?” Our government has proven itself incompetent at running any type of business successfully and needs to concentrate on cleaning up its messes before creating another one.

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