Florida, Indiana's school-reform mentor, continues to struggle with its testing and accountability measures. In the latest glitch, writing scores on the FCAT –Florida's version of ISTEP+ – plunged, prompting the state board of education to lower the grading scale so more students would pass.
But the incident only adds fuel to a growing discontent with Florida's education agenda, largely shaped by former Gov. Jeb Bush.
"This major blunder by the Department of Education in changing the FCAT without adequate notice to school boards, teachers, parents and students underscores once again the dangers inherent in relying on one single — and obviously flawed — test to measure learning progress," said one leader of the Democratic caucus in the Florida House.
A heated state board meeting resulted from the writing score debacle.
"During more than an hour of public comment, parents and teachers criticized the amount of testing that Florida students undergo, the effect test results can have on students, and how prepared teachers were for changes to this year's writing test," according to the Miami Herald.
The Herald also reported on Florida parents' growing dissatisfaction with standardized testing. Their protest was inspired by a resolution signed by representatives of 460Texasschool districts.
Valerie Strauss writes at the Washington Post's Answer Sheet blog that the growing testing backlash there comes as some Texas high school students are spending an astonishing 45 days of their 180-day school year taking mandated standardized tests.
Texas, of course, was the pioneer in so-called education reform under former Gov. George W. Bush. Brother Neil Bush (are you seeing a pattern here?) had his own stake in school reform. Strauss speculated last month on whether or not the revolt in Texaswould spark a national uprising. That seems to be the case. A number of Indiana names are on the national resolution. Meanwhile, Indiana Superintendent Tony Bennett is defending his expanding assessment program.
"This is a vitally important piece of what we should be paying attention to in our state as it applies to the future success of children," he said on the release of IREAD-3 scores,Indiana's latest standardized test.
Most Indiana educators, however, don't see the IREAD-3 test as vitally important. They insist they already were paying attention to reading skills and didn't need another test.