Education

Lee County Jumped into the Fire: Many Repercussions for Opting Out of Tests

By: Allison Nielsen | Posted: August 29, 2014 3:55 AM
Standardized test

Lee County made history this week when it decided to opt out of standardized testing, but the ramifications of the School Board’s decision could be far-reaching and leave students, employees and the district with more problems than originally anticipated.

In a little less than a week, the Florida School Boards Association’s board of directors will meet in Vero Beach. On the agenda: the opting-out-of-testing issue.

If anything is clear in the 10-page document discussing the consequences of opting out of statewide standardized testing, it’s that the decision could have incredibly far-reaching effects for virtually every aspect of the Lee County School District.

For students, opting out of testing poses several problems:

-- It could be an issue for third-graders who need to be held back because they are not proficient in reading. Under Florida law, third-graders who don’t have reading deficiencies remedied are held back. But without the standardized test, there’s no way to determine whether a student is proficient in reading.

-- High schoolers might not be able to graduate because they would not be able to fulfill the needed requirements. Florida law requires students to pass the 10th-grade FCAT and the end-of-course assessment for algebra in order to receive their diploma.

-- Opting out of standardized testing also goes against a significant aspect of Florida’s education system: Without an assessment, there’s no way for schools to get letter grades. Without letter grades, the FSBA says there’s no way to determine whether a district is high-performing.

-- Teachers could suffer financially as a result of opting out of standardized tests. Without a way to measure student achievement, teachers may not be able to receive a performance-based salary increase.

-- Districts could miss out on grant funding because they aren’t participating in assessments. Furthermore, the State Board of Education could decide to withhold state funds for districts that don’t comply with the state’s assessment plan.

Yet, despite the seemingly long list of complications as a result of leaving the statewide assessment tests behind, Lee County doesn’t seem to be backing down from its decision.

"We went against the statutes by not adhering to the class-size amendment,” said Lee County School Board member Dan Armstrong. “What's the difference?"

For opponents of standardized testing, Lee County’s decision could start a tidal wave of districts deciding to abandon statewide standardized tests. Palm Beach County has already expressed a similar desire to get rid of testing in their district.

“We expect Lee County’s action to kick off even stronger campaigns that force politicians to stop the testing fixation that is undermining educational quality and equity in our nation’s public schools,” said Bob Schaeffer, public education director of FairTest.



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

Comments (6)

Richard Riker
10:24AM AUG 30TH 2014
Finally we have a School Board which is more concerned with the students than submitting to the whims of a brand new educational strategy of the day. How many does this one make ? Wow, a lot. Testing is important but the amount of testing Florida required is so excessive and the cost so extravagant that it gets in the way of actual education. The Lee County School Board should be commended for your courage and hopefully your actions will be a catalyst encouraging other school boards to follow your example.
just wondering
5:32PM AUG 30TH 2014
Hey round man where was your tea bagger loyalty this time.

Did you support the Randy Glisson like your mobster sherrff Gary Borders told your kind to do or did you break ranks and vote for the winner Jennifer Sullivan the 23 year old daughter of the North Lake Tea Party founder Patricia Sullivan who won even though Glisson spent $171 tho including $25 of his own $$ and the support of your slanted "shuriff?"
the Bush monopoly of our youth's education
3:45PM AUG 30TH 2014
Well, well little round man from the Walgreen's liquor store. You the tea bagger that loves Sheriff Gary Borders and carries his water for him.

Why would you the old former school teacher stand against Jeb Bush and his Common Core New World Order programming for America's youth when you stand side by side with the gestapo sheriff he appointed at the demands of their mutual friend and pedophile facility owner and operator Mel Sembler. You have always been so quick to defend Gary Borders and his cover ups of the abuse of the boys at the Green Isle Ranch. Do you not know that Borders handlers Mel Sembler and Donald S. Brown (Bridges of America prison schemes) are connected at the hip with your master Jeb Bush?

Remember it was George Bush and his remarks when going into Iraq who said "if you don;t stand with us you are standing against us."

So be informed COMMON CORE is a Jeb Bush and family national educational movement which includes public schools being converted into charter schools. Many are Muslim and led by Gulen or Gary Grappo former Bush 43 Ambassador to Omen.

Little short round man you need to get your head back into daylight and decide who you stand with. If you stand with Gary Borders you are on the Nazi side of the NWO and that means you accept their Common Core takeover of America's education system, plain and simple.
SRQ Tad
9:44PM AUG 29TH 2014
This article is nonsense:
"But without the standardized test, there’s no way to determine whether a student is proficient in reading."...

You're kidding, right? "no way"??? Yes, reading rates, comprehension, retention and vocabularies need to be tested but they do NOT need a "standardized" test based on a bunch of horrible curriculum.

"High schoolers might not be able to graduate because they would not be able to fulfill the needed requirements... 10th grade FCAT... blah, blah, blah..."

By my son's own admission, he only needed to do pre-algebra, 6th-grade work to pass his SENIOR FCAT. Your statement totally void of any merit.

"Without an assessment, there’s no way for schools to get letter grades. Without letter grades, the FSBA says there’s no way to determine whether a district is high-performing."...

The FSBA is a huge part of the root problem. I couldn't care less what sort of threats THEY want to infer.

"Teachers could suffer financially... teachers may not be able to receive a performance-based salary increase."

Another threat from the FSBA. I'm thinking Lee County can take care of their own teachers, regardless of how the 'State' thinks about them OR their salaries.

"Districts could miss out on grant funding ... the State Board of Education could decide to withhold state funds for districts that don’t comply with the state’s... plan."

More threats from the FSBA about witholding OUR OWN MONEY??? It's WAY past time to tell the FSBA just where they can stick it. This is the same blackmail the Fed's used to get CCSS 'voluntarily' implemented in the first place.

"Yet, despite the seemingly long list of complications..."

It only seems to be complicated to somebody who cares more about conforming to (or profiting from) a horrible system than they do about giving our children a decent education as versus indoctinating them with a bunch of socialist hooey.

"...Lee County doesn’t seem to be backing down from its decision."

GOOD!

"Lee County’s decision could start a tidal wave of districts deciding to abandon statewide standardized tests."

Let's all hope so!

""We went against the statutes by not adhering to the class-size amendment,” ... “What's the difference?"

Very good question!

"“We expect Lee County’s action to kick off even stronger campaigns... to stop the testing fixation.. undermining educational quality and equity in our nation’s public schools,”..."

Again, let's hope it does exactly that.
the Bush monopoly of our youth's education
8:44AM AUG 29TH 2014
Lamarre Notargiacomo - It's really more what Jeb Bush wants them to push than total Tallahassee political control.

We can't expect any less when Lobbyist Justin Sayfie was the incorportor of this online mullet wrapper. Old Jeb Bush speechwriter.

Guess we can always hop Sayfie gturned out like Scott McCellan "GW" former white house mouth piece, who got sick and tired of watching all this Bush family drama and wrote a book telling the truth. We should bever give up hope that all these schemes will some day be recognized by the people with brains. After all it was George H. W. Bush, cited in the June, 1992 Sarah McClendon Newsletter:

George H. W. Bush quote cited by White House reporter, Sarah McClendon when she asked him about the Iran-Contra - "If the people were to ever find out what we have done, we would be chased down the streets and lynched."

Bush Donor Profile

Justin J. Sayfie
Occupation: Lobbyist
Employer: Poole McKinley & Blosser
Home: Miami, FL

Lobbyist Justin Sayfie was a political assistant in the early 1990s to a Miami developer named Jeb Bush. From 1995 to 1998, Sayfie represented other landownders seeking development permits through the Miami office of corporate law and lobby firm Greenberg Traurig (see Jack Abramoff and James Miller). Governor Jeb Bush hired Sayfie back in 1999 as a speechwriter and media director and later appointed him deputy policy director. Sayfie, who edits a Florida political newsletter called the Sayfie Review, left that Bush administration in 2001 to lobby for Poole McKinley and Blosser. The firm claims three Bush Pioneers (see James Blosser and Van Poole). Sayfie reported 11 Florida lobby clients in 2003, including Accenture, the Seminole Tribe, several local governments and hospitals and JM Family Enterpriese. James Moran, the billionaire owner of JM, which sells, finances and insures vehicles (see Paul Anderson), was convicted of tax cheating in the 1980s and the company did not pay Florida corporate income taxes for most of the 1990s. JM subsidiary Southeast Toyota, the world’s largest independent Toyota distributor, shook down local and state governments for $15 million in corporate welfare in 1999 after threatening to move to Georgia. Another Sayfie client, AutoNation, is part of the H. Wayne Huizenga empire (including Blockbuster Video, National and Alamo car rentals and sports teams), which created conflicts for Sayfie’s firm when it hired Huizenga’s top lobbyist, Pioneer James Blosser. Blosser had led Huizenga’s efforts to tap tax dollars for new Dolphins, Marlins and Panthers stadiums before new Marlins owner John Henry hired Poole McKinley & Blosser to help publicly fund a $400 million new stadium. The firm resigned when Henry decided to fund it with a rental-car tax—which would bite into Huizenga’s empire. All apparently was forgiven, with the firm lobbying for Huizenga’s AutoNation in 2003. Sayfie told the St. Petersburg Times in 2003 that Florida Pioneers face stiff competition. “It takes a lot of phone calls, and it takes a lot of time to go through your Rolodex and to reach people who haven’t been reached out to before,” he said.
Lamarre Notargiacomo
8:29AM AUG 29TH 2014
I will not stand for this fear mongering! There are plenty of ways to tell if children are able to read proficiently or not! It would be cheaper to hire a reading specialist to test the children individually than the money they are currently spending on testing, enriching test companies and taking a "one size fits all" approach to "education." Being a good test taker is not an indication of how well educated a child is. The initial report From SS News was skewed when reporting that the crowd in attendance at the Lee County School Board meeting was a mix of people for and against opting out, when there was only one person who spoke against opting out. Do your job! Report the facts, not what Tallahassee wants you to say.

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