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FAIR TEST's weekly summary of news shows how the Resistance is exploding across the USA

[Editor's Note: Anyone who wants more proof that the assessment reform movement -- what for more than 15 years Substance has called 'The Resistance" -- is exploding across the nation? Check out every week's stories from across the USA. The compilation of the news articles from across the USA is assembled weekly by Bob Schaeffer of Fair Test, the National Center for Fair and Open Testing. Beginning November 2014, Thanksgiving, Substance will publish once a week as much as the material presented in these Fair Test compilations as we can assemble. George N. Schmidt, Editor, Substance].

STORIES ONE BY ONE…

ALPHABETICAL BY STATE AND TOPIC...

ARIZONA. Where AZMeeit replaced AIMS, etc etc

Havasu schools seek to exempt some from new test, Associated Press, 11:07 AM, Nov 16, 2014

LAKE HAVASU CITY, AZ - Lake Havasu City education administrators are looking into not administering a new state academic proficiency test to high school students next year, the Today's News-Herald reported.

District officials are asking the state if there would be any consequences to letting juniors and seniors who already passed the old AIMS test skip the new AzMerit test.

Brad Gardner, the district's director of education services, said juniors will have to take the ACT exam in the spring and some upperclassmen must retake last year's AIMS test.

"It would be a series of three weeks where you are going to have a test almost weekly and that's a concern," Gardner said. "We don't want students feeling like they are being tested to death."

Gardner said the district also wants a blueprint of the test and sample questions.

The state Board of Education chose the Washington-based nonprofit American Institutes for Research earlier this month to provide literacy and math tests to assess students' progress. All Arizona students are supposed to start taking the test next spring. The state, however, is offering a "hold harmless" rule for the first year of testing. Students who don't earn passing scores won't be held back a grade or punished.

AzMerit, short for Arizona's Measurement of Educational Readiness to Inform Teaching, replaces AIMS, or Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards. AzMerit will be used to measure students on the Arizona College and Career Readiness standards. Those standards are based on Common Core, federal standards that newly elected state Superintendent Diane Douglas has vowed to repeal.

State Sen. Kelli Ward, who will chair the state Senate's education committee, said more information is needed about the new assessment and the issue will be revisited in the next legislative session.

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School groups ask to delay API scores. November 13, 2014 | By John Fensterwald | 21 Comments

The State Board of Education, as expected, voted Thursday to move ahead in the spring with the new Smarter Balanced tests on the Common Core State Standards while leaving open, for now, the decision on what to do with the test results.

At the meeting, the organizations representing the state’s school administrators and school boards said they support reporting test scores to parents and schools. But they would like to postpone using results to judge schools and districts. They argued that many districts aren’t far enough along in adopting the new standards to credibly appraise schools’ performance. The Association of California School Administrators said in a statement that each district “is at a different level of implementation.”

Joe Willhoft, executive director of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, and Keric Ashley, director of the state Department of Education’s Analysis, Measurement & Accountability Reporting Division, discuss the new assessments at the State Board of Education meeting.

The board didn’t discuss or act on the request, although board President Michael Kirst said afterward that the subject may come up at the board’s next meeting, in January or March. Last spring the state suspended nearly all state standardized tests, prompting the federal Department of Education to threaten to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in education dollars for low-income students. Although the department eventually backed off, a further delay could provoke another fight between state and federal officials.

The state Department of Education is recommending that the results of the 2014-15 Smarter Balanced tests in math and reading provide the base scores for schools and districts. They would then be judged on the growth in scores the following year to recalculate the state’s Academic Performance Index, or API. The school boards and administrators want to wait a year and use 2015-16 as the base year.

The proposed delay reflects the uncertainty of knowing how far along the state’s 1,000 districts are in implementing the more rigorous Common Core standards and in preparing to administer end-of-year tests, which for the first time will be administered on computers. Nearly all schools had a dry run last spring when they gave students a Smarter Balanced practice test either in math or reading.

Based on the experience, the state Department of Education reports that nearly all districts have the capacity to administer next spring’s tests. On Thursday, Cindy Kazanis, director of the education management division of the Department of Education, predicted that only about 50 schools out of 11,000 in the state would be giving the test using paper and pencil instead of computers.

But Doug McRae, a retired testing specialist who has criticized Smarter Balanced’s timeline for the tests, said the state has focused on technological readiness and not instructional readiness. Testing students before they have been instructed in the content of Common Core will produce invalid results, he said.

The school administrators association noted that some districts had used one-time Common Core money from the state to upgrade technology or buy instructional materials and not for teacher training. Sherry Skelly Griffith, director of governmental relations for the administrators association, noted that teachers aren’t yet able to use some of the essential tools that the state has purchased from Smarter Balanced. Interim assessments – practice tests that let schools know if students are on track for the end-of-year tests – won’t be available until January.

The board also heard complaints about Smarter Balanced’s Digital Library, a 2,500-item resource that helps guide teachers’ instruction. The Digital Library went online Oct. 1, and 109,000 California teachers have signed up to use it, according to the state. However, technical glitches forced it to shut down a few days last week, and some districts have not given their teachers access to use it. “It strikes me as odd that if we pay for this to be available to teachers, and it is not, then there is a problem,” said board member Sue Burr.

Holly Edds, an assistant superintendent of the Orcutt Union School District, said that waiting a year would give districts a better understanding of the tests and would give teachers a full year to work with interim tests and Smarter Balanced’s digital resources. The state board has the authority under state law to delay calculating the API for another year, and should use it, she said.

Representatives of two organizations advocating for low-income, minority children agreed with the school boards’ and administrators’ position, with caveats.

Amber Banks, an associate with Education Trust-West, said if there were a delay, the state should consider short-term ways to identify low-performing schools needing interventions.

Liz Guillen, director of legislative and community affairs for Public Advocates, said that districts should use the results of student scores from next spring’s tests to direct funding and set goals under their Local Control and Accountability Plans for academic improvement. And she called on the state to do a thorough Common Core evaluation of districts’ readiness to meet the needs of English learners and low-income students.

But Deborah Brown, associate director of education policy at Children Now, urged caution in delaying the establishment of API scores. She said the state must explore carefully potential conflicts with federal accountability requirements.

And Bill Lucia, CEO of the nonprofit organization EdVoice, recommended moving forward with the base scores as planned. The Department of Education has made a reasonable recommendation, and the scores are an essential piece of the state’s new accountability system, he said.

COLORADO. THOUSANDS OF CO STUDENTS OPT OUT, BY REUTERS

Thousands of high school students skip Colorado state tests, BY DANIEL WALLIS, DENVER Fri Nov 14, 2014 6:11pm EST

(Reuters) - Thousands of Denver-area high school students skipped state-mandated science and social studies tests this week and some staged street protests in the latest dispute to hit Colorado education since a flare-up over history curricula.

Nearly 1,900 high school seniors in Douglas County failed to take the newly introduced Colorado Measures of Academic Success tests, while about 1,500 pupils missed them in each of two other districts, Boulder Valley and Cherry Creek, media reports said.

Critics say the tests do not represent what is taught in state high schools, and that preparing for them wastes valuable classroom time and stretched resources.

"Practically no teachers or students were involved in the passing of this legislation," Chaya Wurman, one of the organizers and a senior at Boulder's Fairview High School, said in a video statement.

"We're being tested on things that we have never learned before, or haven't learned in years," she said, adding that many students believe they would not do well on the tests.

The debate, which is unrelated to the Common Core educational standards adopted by many states in 2010, comes after a dispute over an advanced placement history course that saw more than 1,000 students protest in another Denver-area school district in September.

That was part of a liberal-conservative fight over curricula, while this week's controversy is tied to the broader debate over the value of standardized testing.

Several students demonstrated in frigid conditions on Thursday outside Fairview High, some waving home-made placards reading "Education not standardization."

Students at 10 schools including Fairview wrote an open letter outlining their opposition, for instance that CMAS includes economics even though that topic is not a required subject for Colorado high school pupils.

Colorado Department of Education Commissioner Robert Hammond said he hears the concerns about the quantity and timing of tests, and wants the process to be better.

"I understand the frustration," Hammond said in a statement cited by Boulder's Daily Camera newspaper. "I am fully committed to evaluating how the testing goes and working with districts and policymakers to identify ways to improve."

A state task force is seeking public input on how to improve the system and is to report back in January.

(Reporting by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

COLORADO, JOHN MERROW ON THE COLORADO RESISTANCE. Opting Out. BY JOHN MERROW ON 17. NOV, 2014

What to make of recent events in Colorado, where thousands of high school seniors refused to take a state-mandated standardized test? Is this a harbinger of things to come, an American version of “Arab Spring,” or was it an isolated incident with slight significance beyond the Rocky Mountain State?

These days most eyes are on Washington because Republicans have won control of both houses of Congress, but perhaps the big story in 2015 will be a louder student ‘voice’ about what goes on in schools.

At least 5,000 Colorado high school seniors opted out of the tests, given Thursday and Friday, November 13th and 14th.

I spent a fair amount of time on the phone with three Fairview high school seniors talking about the protest, Natalie Griffin (17), Jonathan Snedeker (also 17), and Jennifer Jun (18), all college-bound next year, and all remarkably articulate. [1] At their high school, 98% of the seniors opted out. Across the state, nearly 40% refused to take the test known as CMAS.

Given over two days, CMAS was designed to measure student knowledge of social studies and science. “It’s a no-stakes test for us,” Jonathan Snedeker explained. “The district and the state want data they can use to judge teachers and schools.” And, they say, Colorado is spending $36 million on the test, money they would like to see used to benefit their education.

Students from twelve Colorado high schools [2] wrote and posted an “open letter” to the citizens of Colorado explaining their decision to opt out. The letter, which presents five points of concern, is worth reading in its entirety. These two sentences jumped out at me:

We have been subjected to larger class sizes, cuts to art, music, and extracurricular activities, and fewer opportunities in school. Our reward for putting up with these difficulties is more standardized testing with questionable purposes and monetary costs.

The students have a clear goal: They want Colorado to restrict mandated standardized testing to the number required under federal law (grades 3-8 and 10 in English and math), and no more.

When I spoke with Natalie and Jennifer, they had just come indoors, after standing in zero degree weather in front of their high school. “We have 555 seniors who were supposed to take the test,” Natalie told me. “Well before today, the school had gotten opt-out letters from 435 of us, meaning they expected 120 to take the test.” That didn’t happen, she said happily. “Only 7 kids showed up for the test.” [3]

Two short student videos are worth viewing. The first is an overview, the second a report from the protest itself.

It was clear that these young people thought this through carefully and recognize the importance of being forsomething even as they were standing together against the test. And so, many protesters spent the testing time working in a food bank or organizing a food drive, while others worked on a email campaign directed at the Legislative Task Force that will be recommending a new policy on testing for Colorado. I asked if adults, including teachers, were helping them behind the scenes, and all three vigorously denied adult involvement.

“We used social media to communicate,” one told me, including Twitter, Google Docs and Google Drive. A Facebook page? I asked. “No, because a Facebook page would have been open to anyone, and we did not want that,” Jennifer told me, and so they created a Facebook Event, accessible only by students. The students told me that they kept their principal in the loop, because they did not want their school to be penalized by the state. [4]

Opting out is not new [5], but something important seems to be happening here: savvy students with a clear goal using social media to communicate with each other, the citizens of Colorado, and–now–with a national audience.

What’s happening in Colorado emphasizes the importance of seeing students–not teachers– as the primary workers in schools. Students are, borrowing Peter Drucker’s term, “knowledge workers.” They are most certainly not manual workers. [6]

Because they are knowledge workers, they must be doing meaningful work that they can respect. Their view of the work matters, and, while they don’t get to decide what to do, their voices must be heard. (So too must teachers’ voices be heard, of course, because top-down decision-making almost always produces poor learning.)

I am occasionally asked what I think we should expect in education now that the Republicans control both Houses of Congress. From Washington, not much. But I expect to hear more ‘voices’ from outside our Nation’s capital, the voices of parents [7], teachers [8] and–especially–students.

Savvy students, fed up with being treated as numbers, may take to social media and organize opting out and other protests against what they deem to be excessive testing. They’ll have to push away adults, left and right, who will want to guide (and control) them, or simply take credit for what the kids are doing. If they are savvy (as the Colorado students seem to be), they will be FOR stuff, and not just against this test or that one. They will have to educate the adults in charge, not an easy task. They will be taking on entrenched economic interests like Pearson, the College Board and others who profit from testing.

But if students are the knowledge workers in schools, then they have a right to be doing interesting and valuable work. As protester Jonathan Snedeker told me, “We spend too much time being tested, and not enough time learning.”

—-

Footnotes (? returns to text)

1. 1. Jennifer describes herself as a political moderate. She hopes to go to Stanford, Georgetown or Penn and study international diplomacy. Jonathan hopes to study molecular biology at Johns Hopkins. Natalie, who works part time in the biology lab at UC Boulder, has applied to Brown, Princeton, Emory, Northwestern, Duke and the University of Virginia.?

2. 2. Mostly seniors, but a few underclassmen and some graduates also signed it.?

3. 3. She later corrected that number. Actually NINE showed up, out of 555. That’s less than 2%. At least one of the nine took the test because one of her parents is a teacher and she feared that opting out would jeopardize her job, Natalie told me. On day 2, ten seniors took the test.?

4. 4. Schools are required to demonstrate that they made an “adequate effort” to test at least 95% of students or risk censure by the state. Student organizers urged students to send in an opt-out notice to the principal’s office so the school would know how many computers and proctors it would need to have on testing days.?

5. 5. It happened before in other places, of course. Some students at an elite high school in New York City opted out of a test in the fall of 2013 because they believed that the goal was to play gotcha with their teachers. FairTest publishes a weekly ‘scorecard’ of protests against excessive testing, which you can find here http://fairtest.org/news The list is growing, although not every item is an example of direct action. While some label FairTest as ‘anti-testing,’ its stated position is in favor of ‘testing resistance and reform.’?

6. 6. I am indebted to Deborah Kenny for reminding me of Drucker’s insights. Her book, Born to Rise, is well worth your time, if you haven’t already discovered it. (Harper Collins 2012) Dr. Kenny also writes about kaizen, the Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement in all aspects of an organization.?

7. 7. Some 22 states have passed or are seriously considering passing what are called “parent trigger” laws. Much of the activity is in California. Politico’s Morning Education reports “More than 400 families from across the country will gather this weekend at a trade college in Los Angeles for a “Parent Power Convention” hosted by Parent Revolution, the education reform group that lobbied hard for California’s parent trigger law. Expect a lot of talk about the Vergara decision striking down teacher tenure in California – and how that landmark court case can be replicated in other states.” (November 14)

California is the site of the first–so far, only–school converted to a charter school under the trigger law. The school apparently achieved gains in reading and science. But all may not be well, if this left-leading publication is correct. The ‘parent trigger’ movement is not exactly grass roots, with strong support from the right-leaning organizations. Does that make it a not-quite-genuine ‘voice’ of parents? At the least, it’s highly debatable.

But there are other parents who support or lead opt-out efforts, sometimes with their children in tow, sometimes arm-in-arm. These parents are being heard from in several Florida communities, Pittsburgh, and a host of other cities and towns.?

8. 8. Do teachers have a ‘voice’ beyond that of their unions? I believe they do, and, as evidence, I cite the growing number of teacher-led schools, Barnett Berry’s Teacher Leader Network, school-community organizations like the Coalition of Community Schools, and social media networks like the Coalition of Essential Schools, where teachers share insights and support each other.?

COLORADO PETITION

Repeal Senate Bill 191 Linking Standardized Test Scores to Teacher Pay and Performance

Parents, Educators and Children of Colorado

United States

In an effort to promote collaborative partnerships among schools, teachers, parents and students, and given the lack of evidence to support high-stakes standardized tests as valid and reliable measures of educator effectiveness, we call for the repeal of SB 191 and any policies legislated or otherwise that link teachers' pay or performance to standardized test scores.

Para promover las asociaciones de colaboración entre las escuelas, los maestros, los padres y los estudiantes, y dada la falta de evidencia para apoyar las pruebas estandarizadas de altas apuestas como medidas válidas y fiables de la eficacia de los educadores, pedimos la derogación de la ley SB 191 y las políticas legisladas o de otra forma que enlazan el pago o el rendimiento de los maestros a los resultados de los exámenes estandarizados.

FLORIDA RESISTANCE

Departing Sarasota County teachers give feedback in surveys

By Gabrielle Russon

Published: Saturday, November 8, 2014 at 6:46 p.m.

Last Modified: Saturday, November 8, 2014 at 6:46 p.m.

SARASOTA - The pressures of standardized tests and frustration over high-stakes professional evaluation were problems cited by veteran teachers as they left the Sarasota County school system in recent months, district documents show.

Last school year, about 40 educators completed exit surveys that provided insight into the stresses and the joys for local teachers. The district released the surveys, which were not mandatory for employees to complete, late last month.

Sarasota County “is an excellent place to teach public school compared to other districts, but the Legislature has taken most of the fun out of teaching!” wrote a Lakeview Elementary music teacher, who taught at the district for 23 years.

The educators, spread across the district’s elementary, middle and high schools, offered their thoughts on the best and worst parts of working in the school system in the anonymous exit surveys.

Of the 39 employees, 77 percent listed retirement as the primary reason for their departure.

“Youth potion,” a Pineview English teacher wrote when asked if there was anything that could be done to sway the decision to quit.

Other concerns that influenced decisions to leave were job-related stress and the workload, the surveys showed. Those issues were cited 12 times as “secondary” reasons for quitting.

“Society has changed. Parental support has waned. The value of education in the eyes of numerous households has declined. Until the pendulum swings the other direction, our educational system will be taken over by charter and private schools. Public education in the U.S. is on the decline,” a Venice Middle social studies teacher wrote.

Despite the reviews, the majority — 26 employees — said they would recommend their job without reservations, according to the surveys.

“I have been honored to work in the Sarasota County School System!!!” a Southside Elementary teacher wrote.

The employees also seemed satisfied with their salaries.

“It still pays better than most districts in Fl and Sarasota is a nice place to live,” wrote a Booker High English teacher, who was upset with the district’s decision to replace media specialists at middle and high schools with aides.

Some teachers described the positive aspects about their job — the light-bulb moments when students learned a new concept, supportive coworkers or a principal who really cared.

“I liked that Sarasota Co. strives to make our district one of excellence. I loved my job very much!” wrote a teacher who left the school name blank on the survey form.

That teacher also described the worst part of the job as “the stress of unrealistic demands by the state — constantly feeling threatened.” It made the teacher not like teaching anymore, the survey said.

Another Fruitville Elementary teacher, who left the district after 32 years wrote: “Truthfully 30 years ago the teaching workload was right. It has progressively gotten greater and greater. Today it is really unmanageable and my heart goes out to those staying up until midnight. . . . This isn’t Sarasota but teaching in general. The stress of the expectations of all students, teachers and administrators is causing tension and anxiety. I only see it getting worse.”

Others voiced their concerns about the validity of the teacher evaluation system.

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Departing Sarasota County teachers give feedback in surveys

By Gabrielle Russon

Published: Saturday, November 8, 2014 at 6:46 p.m.

Last Modified: Saturday, November 8, 2014 at 6:46 p.m.

Page 3 of 3

School officials and the Sarasota Classified/Teachers Association are negotiating a contract that is expected to detail how teachers’ salaries will be tied to their evaluations. Their evaluations are determined based on their administrators’ classroom observations and student test scores. A complicated state formula known as the value-added model tries to measure teachers’ impact on student learning.

One Venice High English teacher employed at the district for 39 years called the process “inconsistent.”

Some assistant principals observed teachers by walking through the classrooms while other administrators rarely visited teachers, the exit survey said.

“The value-added model is a definite deterrent to the longevity of staff,” the teacher added. “Everything is about the testing.”

CENTRAL FLORIDA OPT OUT…

COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -Every year in Florida, students are tested, but this year Florida isretiring its old standardized test: the FCAT. This spring, nearly every student will take the new Florida Standards Assessment or FSA. The problem is critics say the exam hasn't been thoroughly field tested and Florida's children shouldn't be guinea pigs. Now, many local parents are taking matters into their own hands.

Several parents at this week's Orange County School Board meeting said Florida's new state test deserves a failing grade. School leaders don't know what to expect from it.

Orange County School Board Chairman Bill Sublette is asking for one year delay.

"Those tests haven't been field tested,” said Sublette. “We haven't worked out the kinks here in Florida for Florida students, and that is just unfair and wrong."

Seminole County Middle School teacher Karen Heriot agreed.

"The kids are very worried,” said Heriot. “We're worried for them."

Her fight is professional and personal. She recounted her son's struggles with the exam when her family first moved to Florida more than a decade ago.

"He scored so high on the ACT,” said Heriot. “According to state law, he would not get a high school diploma."

She and many others like Orange County mom Sandy Stenoff are fed up.

"We decided that the only way to stop it was to stop fueling the machine," said Stenoff.

Stenoff's daughter opted out of the FCAT twice.

"My daughter started being very stressed out," said Stenoff.

She and Cindy Hamilton formed Opt Out Orlando about a year and a half ago. The group helps parents find options for high stakes tests. Organizers told FOX35 they want children to be assessed using multiple measures -- classwork, reports, projects and several tests, and not a single test during taken during one period of the year.

Stenoff added that the stakes attached to testing is causing teachers to teach to the test.

“Kids are missing out on a real education and there is no do over,” said Stenoff.

There's no formal opt out process, but the group drafted a blueprint it believes can help parents.

"Now if you fail the FCAT last year, what will now be the FSA this year, you're automatically retained," said Hamilton referring to students in third grade.

A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Education confirmed students across Florida have opted out of the state assessment in the last few years, however, she said the Department has no way to keep track of the official number. It appears many are using laws meant for students who fail state tests.

Florida law requires every district to administer the test. It also requires every student to participate in the test.

"When a student sits for the test and opens the test and signs into the test, they've participated,” said Stenoff. “It doesn't say anything about having to complete the test."

Shari Bobinski, a spokesperson for the Orange County School District wrote, “The test must be administered to all OCPS students who attend school at any time during the testing windows. If your student does not pass the standardized test required by state law, the student will have the opportunity to pass with either a passing score on a portfolio or a passing score on an alternative standardized test.”

Orange County School District leaders told FOX35 on average, three parents ask about opting out every year, but added that it's unclear whether those parents actually follow through because “it is private student information that is prohibited from release by state law.”

Seminole County School District leaders said they also had no official way to track every family who opts out of testing, adding:

“There are always parents who just keep their children home during testing, or who withdraw the students just before testing and re-enroll them just after testing because they do not agree with the testing itself, but we don't keep records on that specifically,” said Michael Lawrence, spokesperson for the district.

Exact, long-term consequences are unclear. State leaders told FOX35 that truancy charges are possible for students who miss school. Officials also said a child could be retained.

"I never had any fear about her being held back," said Stenoff.

Stenoff shared her opting out experience. Two years ago, her daughter, a third grader, went to school prepared to "sit and stare," which is just like it sounds.

"{Her daughter} said, I tried,” said Stenoff. “I tried not taking the test, but after five minutes she took the test."

Stenoff then kept her daughter home for the rest of the week. The next year, two of her children refused the test in person.

"They sat down for the test,” said Stenoff. “They broke the seal on the test. They pushed the test away."

Hamilton said that method tends to be less harmful for students and schools and reduces the risk of being charged with truancy.

"Because it's no data,” said Hamilton. “It's not a 0. It's not a 1. It's not a failure."

Hamilton added that parents with Third or Tenth graders must take a few extra steps. Tenth graders can swap a concordant sat or act score. Third graders must compile a portfolio.

"Which is a collection of the student's best work,” said Hamilton. “That will serve as an alternative assessment."

"I would do it again,” said Stenoff. “And we will do it again."

Hamilton said you should speak with your child's teacher and principal before opting out of any test because every situation is unique. She also cautioned parents to thoroughly read the information on their website: http://optoutorlando.wordpress.com/

TEACHERS CONSIDER ‘CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE’

Florida Teachers Consider ‘Civil Disobedience’ To Say No To Testing

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NOVEMBER 17, 2014 | 2:00 AM

BY JOHN O'CONNOR

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• • JOHN O'CONNOR / STATEIMPACT FLORIDA

Miramar High School teacher David Ross says testing has taken more and more time away from teaching. He refused to administer an FCAT make-up exam in protest.

In September, Alachua County kindergarten teacher Susan Bowles refused to give a state reading test.

She told the parents of her students it was an act of civil disobedience. TheFlorida Department of Education later suspended the exam for this year.

Florida requires that most students are tested every year. Those results help determine which students graduate, ratings for public schools and teacher pay.

Supporters say Florida schools have improved since pioneering the use of tests. Testing forces schools to pay attention to every student’s progress.

Some teachers say they believe too many tests are bad for students. Around the state, students, parents, teachers, superintendents and school boards are discussing how to voice their opposition to testing.

But is the classroom the right place to raise those questions? Educators disagree about the best way for teachers to speak up.

• Florida Teachers Consider 'Civil Disobedience' To Say No To TestingListen to the story by John O’ConnorDownload

TESTING DAYS INCREASING

Each year, Miramar High School American government and economics teacher David Ross counts the number of days students have to take a standardized test.

Two years ago he counted 67 days. Last year, it was 77 days. This year is on pace to be even more days, he says.

Ross has taught for more than three decades and is close to retiring. So when he was asked to administer an FCAT retake earlier this year, Ross decided he had enough.

He wrote an open letter and said no.

“My vehement opposition to the contemporary testing and accountability fixation,” he wrote, “consequently, precludes me from administering this shameful and ignominious assault upon a bona fide and progressive education.”

“I’m in the fortunate position that I’m nearing the end of my teaching career,” Ross says, “and I felt this was my one opportunity to actually demonstrate my opposition to standardized testing.

“I would be so happy if others could follow suit.”



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