Rick Scott Continues to do his Homework on Revamping FCATs
Around the State
Gov. Rick Scott continued all last week to offer glimpses into his desire to revamp the statewide testing students must undertake to advance a grade and eventually graduate.
Instead of teaching to the test, as teachers and parents have complained about the FCATs during his state crossing “education listening tour,” he has professed a need to establish a means to evaluate students on what they’ve learned in course work that prepares students for “college and careers.”
But as he continues the “tour” on Monday, just what he will do remains to be seen in the months heading into the 2013 legislative session.
Scott has been receiving input from teachers, parents, administrators, union leaders and even students through the Governor’s Office Website and during his school visits, which in the past week have taken him to campuses in Jacksonville, Boca Raton, Miami, Orlando, Southwest Florida and the Panhandle.
Scott, who is currently working without a full-time state education commissioner, even held a dinner with teacher union officials at the governor’s mansion, where he claimed to have professed his intention to maintain -- “at a minimum” -- the current level of education funding.
What he has shown is a desire to create a more uniform means to test as he has criticized the FCATs, saying that any annual testing of students should have a “purpose.”
“In high school, you have a different testing requirement for ninth, 10th, 11th and 12th [grade], as you go through school, how ridiculous is that?” Scott said while on WFLA 970-AM in Tampa Bay on Thursday.
“You can’t just keep changing things constantly on these teachers and students and parents. Students want to succeed and we have to make sure they can.”
The testing now given annually to students in grades 3 to 11 was created in 1998 as a means to require higher standards to increase student achievement.
Schools are graded on student performance on the test. The higher the grade, the more money the school may receive.
Among the many criticisms of the test is that all students in the same grade take the same test regardless of which courses and levels they are enrolled in.
Scott, while appearing on WNRP 1620-AM in Pensacola on Friday, said such tests need to require critical thinking from students.
Scott, who pushed for and received adding $1 billion back toward pre-K-12 education in the current year, said he was also looking at whether the state is rewarding teachers the right way and if teachers were spending too much out of their own pockets for supplies.
Scott continues the “tour” today, meeting with teachers, students, parents and administrators at Fort Walton Beach High School and Davidson Middle School in Crestview.
What Scott says he has learned on the “tour”:
Tuesday, Southwest Miami High School:
“The teachers I met with also discussed the need for a consistent measurement system so we can fairly hold all students and teachers accountable.”
Wednesday, Lexington Middle School in Fort Myers and Madeira Beach Fundamental School in Madeira Beach:
“At both schools, parents and teachers talked about creating a path for students to gain needed career skills in high school. Ensuring our students are best prepared for the work force, whether after college or immediately following graduation from high school has been a common goal I heard throughout my meetings.
“Teachers also suggested ways for the state to make sure that assessments can maximize student achievement. Later in the day, I was fortunate to meet with members of the Florida Parent Teacher Association who discussed the need for students to be prepared to get jobs after they graduate.”
Thursday, Fern Creek Elementary and Ocoee Middle School in Orange County:
“Fern Creek Elementary, a school that has a large homeless youth population, has a faculty and staff that deeply care about the safety of their students. Many teachers expressed that while it is sometimes challenging, the ability to get parents involved is key to getting students to succeed in their math and reading abilities. Ann and I also had the opportunity to read to students at Fern Creek and it is clear the teachers there create a positive leaning environment for all grade levels.
“Parents in Ocoee today talked about the need for their kids to be prepared to enter the work force when they graduate. It was great to see students developing those skills at an after-school program at Ocoee where students were learning to design and create video games.”
Friday, Teachers Union in Tallahassee:
“In our dinner tonight, I told the FEA that as we continue to develop our education agenda we are going to at a minimum sustain current state funding for education in the next budget and, depending on the state’s economic outlook, aim to increase education funding where we can improve student outcomes.
“Our goal is to better prepare students for college and careers and our policies in the next budget and the next legislative session will be designed around that.
“We look forward to working more with these leaders here today – and all the parents, students, teachers, business community members and other educators throughout the state -- in the weeks and months ahead as we finalize our education policy.”
Reach Jim Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (772) 215-9889.