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Politics

Lee County School Board Wants Out of Standardized Tests

August 13, 2014 - 6:00pm

Among critics of modern education, standardized testing is one big detriment to public education. And in Lee County -- the ninth largest district in Florida -- the School Board wants to appeal the process entirely.

Whatever the standards, whatever the test, the Lee County School Board doesnt want it -- and board members are looking into exactly how they can pull their district (so far the only district in Florida to discuss this) out of standardized testing.

At a meeting this week, Lee County School Board members voiced their concern over the standardized tests administered to their students.

"A lot of our money is being poured out of this county to go to one company, I won't say names," said board member Don Armstrong. "But on this board or not on this board, I won't stand for it anymore."

Armstrong wasnt the only board member to speak out against testing. As the News-Press originally reported, several board members joined in Armstrongs sentiments.

Jeanne Dozier, who has served on the School Board since 2000, asked the district to opt out of standardized testing.

Dozier was joined by the other members of the board, who voted unanimously to research the testing opt-out.

"State assessments have been designed for kids to fail," board member Mary Fischer said.

Some school districts across the country have already said no to standardized testing for their students. Although standardized testing has been praised generally as a good way to analyze student achievement, the process has come under fire in recent years for being too high stakes and for requiring teachers to teach to a test, which some claim severely limits student learning.

The Lee County School Board brought up that in some states, like Texas, some districts have chosen to opt out of testing.

The Lone Star state was actually a leader in implementing standardized testing in schools during the 1990s, but as time has progressed -- and backlash against testing increased -- Texas has backed off of heavy standardized testing.

In 2013, Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed a law limiting the number of tests Texas students were required to take before graduating, from 15 to five.

Florida has not seen a significant withdrawal from standardized testing as Texas has. State law requires all districts to comply with the state Board of Educations policies, but its not crystal clear what happens to students or districts that opt out of testing.

The board will vote on whether to remove itself from testing at its next meeting at the end of the month.

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

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