High stakes testing has existed in our state for over a decade. It’s part of an education reform movement created and implemented by politicians and corporations who have little or no education experience or credentials. In seeing that there are problems with our public school system, these decision-makers showed their inexperience by mistakenly implementing high stakes accountability measures that would supposedly improve the system. In reality, they have done the opposite.
The high stakes that accompany testing in our state include:
- The school grading system, which allocates an A-F “grade” to public schools. The grading formula relies almost entirely on results from childrens’ standardized test scores. Financial rewards are given to schools with high grades, and a “failing” grade could lead to a school being closed.
- Teacher and administrator evaluations, which must includes standardized test scores from their students (per state law). The state statutes sometimes refer to “progress monitoring,” which also uses test scores.
- In some grades, students could be retained and have to repeat a grade based on test scores.
- Some school districts also add their own high stakes to tests, such as class placement in middle or high school or magnet school admission.
These high stakes are the reason our children take so many tests. Because of the high cost of failure in our state, districts often add additional tests to allow them to predict how students will perform on state-mandated tests. This is also why children spend so much time on test preparation, which takes up time that could be used for more learning. The testing also leads to high anxiety and mental health concerns for students and teachers.
High stakes testing is a major factor in the statewide teacher shortage, which has reached crisis proportions. High quality teachers are leaving the profession because these tests demoralize them and remove their classroom autonomy.
Two recent bills filed in the Florida legislature – SB1048 and HB1193 – claim to reduce the number of tests our students take. This claim is false. Rather than taking state-mandated tests once per year as they currently do, children will have to take three per year if this bill passes (going from 7 to 37 in elementary school alone). In addition to that, children in grades pre-K through 2 will have to take computer-based tests (at an age when many don’t have the dexterity to even use a computer).
CALL TO ACTION: Tell Florida legislators to stop over-testing our children!
Enter your address here to find your state senator and state representative (they will likely be the first two legislators that appear after you enter your address). Reach out to them via phone and email right away, and ask them to vote down SB1048 (Senate bill) and HB1193 (House bill). Talking points include:
- High stakes testing is having a major negative impact on our schools, teachers and children. It changes the way children learn, focusing more on test scores than things like creativity, problem solving and critical thinking.
- These bills DO NOT remove the punitive, inappropriate high stakes from state-mandated tests. As long as those high stakes exist, our accountability system will be flawed and our children will suffer.
- The House bill would make it harder for schools to achieve an A or B grade, thus INCREASING the high stakes.
- High stakes testing is a major factor leading to Florida’s teacher shortage, which is of crisis proportions. These bills do nothing to address that, and will lead to more high quality teachers leaving the profession.
- These bills will lead to MORE TESTS for Florida’s children, not less – going from once per year to three times per year.
- More high stakes tests will lead to increased anxiety and mental health concerns for students.
- These bills would require children as young as four years old to take computer-based tests, during a time when they should be focused on being enriched through play-based learning, not computer skills.
- Progress monitoring should be teacher created and led, and results should only be used to improve learning – not to close schools, impact teacher evaluations, or retain students.