By Caroline Young | firstname.lastname@example.org
New Florida Gov. Rick Scott has always said that he knows what is best for Florida education. His new law, the Student Success Act makes standardized tests the main evaluation tool for teachers’ abilities. And, he says it weeds out the fruitless ones.
Contrary to Scott’s belief, this law is everything but the best choice for our state’s suffering education system.
Standardized tests have been used to evaluate schools since the U.S. Elementary and Secondary Education Act became law, nearly 50 years ago. They require one confining, rigid way of thinking. Creativity is inhibited. Kids may fail if they’re behind, but they may fail because they are ahead of their classmates. There is no room for thinking outside the box.
Most of us remember the hours of shading bubbles in school, starting sometime around third grade. Now, Scott wants all grades to be tested in every subject. Vicki Hall, a speech-language pathologist at Osceola Elementary School in St. Johns County, does not believe the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests are a viable evaluation for anyone, teachers or students. Hall thinks the FCATs are usually inaccurate because of the variables that can hinder a child’s focus, such as sickness, family issues or simply having an off day. Or maybe they are just not great test-takers. Or maybe their dog just died.
Hall thinks it would be much better to bring evaluators into the classrooms consistently. In reality, the testing creates additional stress for teachers, along with more students at younger ages. Hall watches pressured parents invest time and money to making sure their kids pass the tests. She empathizes with students and predicts parents to be outraged once they realize the repercussions of Scott’s decision.
Scott feels this legislation will bring more jobs to Florida. Yet we feel it will do the opposite — especially where effective teachers are needed the most, like in Jacksonville, where the high school dropout rate is 60 percent. Why would anyone seek a job there, knowing they may lose it because they were not able to turn things around in a year? Let’s get real — the only new employees coming to Florida will be the test-makers.
Thanks to the Student Success Act, recent college grads with education degrees are thinking about different paths. Sam Kunsch is graduating from Flagler College this month and terrified for the teaching career she vigorously worked toward and dreamed of her entire life. She is now considering going to graduate school for something entirely different, all because she doesn’t want standardized tests determine her success as a teacher.
All because Rick Scott knows it’s for the best.