In my column last month, I wrote about teachers’ concerns that state-mandated tests are dominating nearly every aspect of our public schools. Ironically, at the same time that the Florida Legislature was convening its 2015 session, the seasonal barrage of testing opened with an epic fail. Students experienced computer blackouts and resets all over the state.
Thousands of students were either unable to log on or were kicked out of the computer, leaving them unable to finish their test. Teachers were pleading with state policy makers to be cautious, to not move so fast and to be sure that infrastructures were in place to avoid our worst fears. Unfortunately, pleas fell on deaf ears and our worst fears are now real. These seem like small problems, but not only did the problem waste precious time, it added more anxiety to already stressedout students and teachers who are understandably nervous at testing time.
I traveled with teachers to Tallahassee this month. We spoke to Legislators, asking them to listen carefully to the citizens of Florida who are saying that testing in schools has gone too far. Students deserve an education designed to help them reach their maximum potential. They deserve a classroom environment where their teacher can focus more on teaching, and less on how their students will do on a single test.
Students deserve opportunities to explore art, music, languages, and physical education to help enrich their lives. No standardized test will ever do that.
Teachers desperately want to do what they know best as professionals. They want to develop the breadth of their student’s knowledge rather than spend every moment of their time preparing them to pass a test. Let me be clear that teachers are not advocating for the elimination of all testing and accountability, but for adequate instructional time focused on the total development of the student.
Lawmakers are hearing more often that testing is a concern of their constituents. Your teachers are asking concerned parents to add their voice to the conversation. Call or email your legislator now through May 1, 2015, while they are in session.
If you have the ability to tweet or go on Facebook, please do so. Get this message out.