Independent Voices for Better Education pioneered grassroots ed reform in 1990. At that time the High School Competency Test was at an 8th grade level, and even that wasn't low enough to see enough students pass it. So they simply lowered the passing standard.. Sound familiar?
But before FCAT there was Blueprint 2000, a toothless charade that had no consequences for non-compliance and no definition of adequate progress. I heard one Dade administrator say that they thought one percentile was adequate progress. So you see how this evolved. After the Legislature defunded B-2000, they were presented with FCAT and accepted it.
There were and are more than enough valid, norm-referenced tests that the state could have used to determine accountability. They chose FCAT instead.
The unions didn't want any national norm-referenced testing that would have an effect on evaluation of both students and teachers.I heard one Dade school board member say we just have to plant the seeds and see what blooms. I replied that while they're waiting for something to bloom, the children are dying on the vines.
Meanwhile, 65% of high school graduates needed remediation in community colleges.
Do we need accountability? Of course, but using valid tests. My daughter's Gifted teacher said if the test is valid, there's nothing wrong with teaching to it. There's the rub. Is the state using a valid test?
That question could be put to rest if the state would use the nationally norm-referenced tests that exist, and put more factors into the mix to determine whether students and teachers are being held accountable for results.
The Special Ed and ESOL students weren't even tested years ago. We discovered this when we compared the number of students in a few districts' 20 day count with the number of students who were tested. But that doesn't mean they should be judged across the board with the general population.
Yes, affluence generally produces better achievers. But poor families who value education do too. And back in the 60's Dr. James P. Comer, a Yale child psychiatrist developed the Comer Process. He took the two lowest performing, low socio-economic schools in New Haven, got the trust of the families, and achieved significant results.
We just refuse to learn the lessons of history. Our country languishes in spite of billions poured into education.
Ignorance is not knowing, and we're all ignorant in some respects. Stupidity is not wanting to know. Let's get past stupid before it's too late.