Florida's high-stakes test for severely disabled students is part of a "badly flawed system lacking common sense," according to a video released today by the Florida Education Association. The teachers union video argues that giving standardized tests to such students -- and judging their teachers and schools by the results -- amounts to "lunacy."
The video features students at Polk County school for children with multiple and complex physical and mental disabilities. One of the kids in the video is blind, and three are in wheelchairs. All have limited intellectual abilities; one girl is 9 and still working on her ABCs, her mother says.
Yet these kids must take the Florida Alternate Assessment, an FCAT-like exam for students with disabilities who cannot take Florida's key, high-stakes standardized exams.
In the video, educators argue that for these severely disabled students even the alternate test is inappropriate, requiring teachers to read aloud stories the kids cannot understand and then to ask questions they cannot answer.
"It's not geared toward her," one mother says. It's disrespectful."
The video makes similar arguments as those of Andrea Rediske, whose late son Ethan, 11, had severe disabilities and had to take the alternate test until he was granted a waiver because of medical problems.
The union says the attempt to test these students is an example of Florida's "misuse of testing" and and its "unbending attitude."
Joanne McCall, the group's vice president, said in a statement:
“These high-stakes tests are valued above everything else by those who set education policy in Florida... We need to bring some sanity to this testing madness.”
(photo from the Florida Education Association video "Our Students are More Than a Test".)