Teachers rally over Florida’s standardized testing obsession

Courtesy of Miami Herald

Thousands of teachers from all over Florida rallied at the state Capitol Jan. 14 expressing their anger toward Florida lawmakers and their obsession with standardized testing.

The Florida Education Association, the teacher’s union for the state, organized the rally.  Members of the union believe Florida pays too much attention to standardized testing and not educating their students.

Joanne McCall, president of the FEA led the rally and argued that the new changes will ultimately change the careers of many Florida teachers, and not for the better.

“Florida is cheating our children out of their education and robbing them of valuable classroom time because we are obsessed with how well they test rather than how well they learn,” McCall said in a recent press release.

The new test was introduced last spring to replace the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. Since implementing the new test the Florida Department of Education has experienced a delay in releasing test scores.

Test scores for the FSA were finally released last September after the Florida Department of Education announced that the test was finally tested for validity.  

Rosemarie Constantine, a Language Arts teacher at Hialeah Middle School in Miami and union member, agrees that Florida lawmakers have no understanding of the effects of standardized testing in the classrooms.

“A number of them have never taught in the classroom or they have been so far removed that they have forgotten the challenges and dynamics of teaching and learning especially in this information and technological age,” Constantine said.

Last year Governor Rick Scott addressed the concern that the state spends too much time on testing and not enough time educating. Even signing House Bill 7069 last April, a law intended to limit the amount of test Florida students take.

“It’s important to measure students’ progress and achievements, but we must not lose sight of our goal to provide every student with the very best education,” Scott said.

Over-testing wasn’t the only issue being addressed at the rally. Many teachers expressed frustration toward the Florida legislature proposing that teachers should be paid based on their students’ performance on standardized test.

“It is an unfair proposal that highlights a nonsensical correlation between teacher's’ pay and student performance.  It lends itself to the idiomatic expression, ‘Can one make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear?’” Constantine said.

The Florida senate is set to meet by the end of the month to discuss a possible proposal.