FCAT failures show test-obsessed teaching falls short

To fully appreciate how deeply flawed Tallahassee's approach to public education is, you must look beyond the recent news of abysmal FCAT scores — and look at how we got here.

You see, FCAT was supposed to be a simple fix for a complicated problem.

If we could just get our students to pass this standardized test, supposedly everything would be swell.

So we cut back everything from science curriculum to art classes to focus on these tests.

And we spent hundreds of millions of tax dollars paying companies to develop and grade them.

Teachers were no longer trusted to teach.

Everyone was made to bow down at the almighty altar of FCAT.

Yet this year — after more than a decade of FCAT obsession — more than 70 percent of our fourth-graders flunked the writing test.

We saw similarly sorry results in eighth and 10th grades. Third-graders posted the lowest reading scores in years. Math scores dropped as well.

This can mean one of only two things:

Either the test-centered method of teaching is a failure.

Or the test itself is a failure.

There really is no option C.

Yet all I'm hearing from state officials is excuses — such as maybe the teachers didn't understand what was expected of them.

Hogwash.

You guys contrived this system.

Instead of letting teachers and principals decide how to educate children, you did. (Together with Pearson, whose $254 million contract to develop and grade these tests should be re-examined.)

And using your methods, they failed.

So how about you guys stop pointing fingers?

 

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