Take Back Florida Schools

The misuse of high stakes standardized tests in our nation’s public schools has changed the way our children are educated, the way schools and teachers are measured, and even public perception of our schools. We have become obsessed with a focus on what is easily measured at the expense of everything else. The emotional toll it’s taking on teachers and students cannot be underestimated, and is becoming more evident each day based on Florida’s growing teacher shortage.

The passage of the federal education bill, Every Student Succeeds Act, in December 2015 gave states slightly more flexibility with regards to high stakes testing. It’s time to demand that our state and districts take advantage of this flexibility and minimize the effect of testing on our children. It’s time for an organized statewide revolt against the testing and flawed accountability system that are hurting our children and our classrooms. It’s time to take back Florida schools.

How can we fix this?
The State legislation passed the laws that mandate testing and the high stakes that go with it, and they can reverse those laws. The Department of Education, Board of Education and Governor interpret statute and are given the freedom within some statutes of determining how high the stakes are. School districts retain control of district-mandated testing and progress monitoring, as well as student progression plans that often place additional stakes on tests.

Call to Action
State politicians work for the public and have a civic duty to act on information received from their constituents. We are asking concerned Florida citizens to make their voices heard in a unified way. If enough people speak up with the same message at the same time, we believe it will make a difference.

  1. Click here to find out who is running for office in your area – including local School Board elections, State Legislators and United States Legislators. You may need to visit this site first to enter your address and find out which districts you live in. Send letters and emails, make phone calls and conduct one-on-one or group meetings if possible.
  2. Contact your current School Board members and Superintendent, the Department of Education, Board of Education, the Governor’s Office and your School Administrators. Attend School Board meetings and read the sample letters below.
  3. Using social media, share articles and information about the negative effects of testing using the hashtags #StopTheTesting and #LetThemTeach

The Message

Sample Letter to existing State legislators and leaders
Sample letter to those running for State office
Sample letter to existing School Board members and/or Superintendents
Sample letter to those running for district elections

Rather than using tests to measure and evaluate students, teachers and schools in the way they are currently being used, we are asking for the following:

  • Assessments should be locally created, with questions written by educators experienced in the subject matter and grade level being tested, preferably the classroom teacher.
  • Assessments should be formative, and used for the purpose of informing teachers about student progress and improving learning.
  • Assessments should NOT be used to measure or evaluate the performance of education personnel in any way.
  • Assessments should NOT be used to measure, evaluate or grade schools or districts in any way.
  • Any one assessment should NOT be the sole determinant in promotion, progression, student grades or placement decisions in any circumstance. The best people to make promotion decisions are the classroom teachers and parents familiar with the students’ abilities.
  • Student progress monitoring should only be used when necessary to guide an individual’s learning, and should be done through classroom-based observations and work-based portfolios created by teachers and other educators.
  • Questions on assessments should not be considered private or protected. Students and teachers should be able to speak freely and openly about test questions, and given the opportunity to critique and improve questions as needed.
  • Assessments (and the amount of time spent on assessments) should be cognitively, developmentally and age-appropriate, as determined by teachers and other child development experts.
  • Preparation for assessments should not take up classroom time, nor essential non-academic time periods such as recess or lunch.
  • Assessments should be made available to teachers far in advance of administration so that they can prepare students for success.
  • Alternative methods of accountability that focus on improving educational quality rather than improving test scores should be used. Examples include: adherence to class size requirements, regular access to extra curricular activities including the arts, quality of individualized services including those for gifted and special education students, percentage of certified teachers and quality of certification programs, and other proven techniques.

We know we can make a difference if we work together. Thank you for standing up for our children!

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