Nancy Noonan: Another unproven testing scheme


Published: Friday, November 15, 2013 at 2:16 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 15, 2013 at 2:16 p.m.

There should be no argument about good standards for public education, but there is concern about the general intent behind Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the change to testing and accountability. The issues arise when they are thrown at public schools, teachers and administrators without appropriate piloting to accurately measure progress with the standards.

Given the statistically invalid status of Florida's A-F school grading system, I believe a moratorium of all school grades for the next few years is in order. Then teachers and school districts would be much better prepared for any future testing done purely on a diagnostic basis through the CCSS.

Every child, teacher and school should be held harmless during this period of transition. I believe that new tests and new systems must be piloted and proven to be good for our children.

We do not need any additional unfunded mandates from the state Legislature, such as requiring school districts to fund the required technology for testing of the students' academic progress related to these proposed new standards.

It is ironic that the Florida Legislature funds public education on the cheap but spends lavishly when it comes to paying for tests and hiring vendors. Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature seem willing to pilot the entire state — 2.4 million children — on another unproven testing scheme based on an unknown curriculum.

The experiences we have had in Florida with the revolving door with commissioners of education and the FCAT and its testing failures cause concern about a new set of testing requirements with a company that will do the testing components.

No one knows who will develop the testing requirements for Common Core. Will it be Pearson, who failed miserably in Florida with the FCAT, or some other unknown corporate entity, whose purpose is to make money and not truly consider what accurately measures education growth in the subject matter areas to be evaluated?

The Legislature continues to cut education funding and creates unfunded mandates but expects local communities and school districts to find the money to support education for their K-12 school districts.

What we want for our children attending public schools in Florida is some real educational leadership at the state and local levels and consistency of educational goals. These goals should be driven by what is best for the teaching and learning process for students in our schools and not driven by corporate giveaways to those who want to design testing programs that have been severely lacking in measuring academic progress.

Our students deserve much better than this from our Legislature, our governor and the commissioner of education.

Nancy M. Noonan is president and co-founder of Marions United for Public Education, a non-partisan citizens advocacy organization aimed at building strong and effective public schools in Marion County.

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