The Power of Free, Self-Selected Reading

Florida Testing Update-April 2015

For the third week in a row Florida schools are under siege from testing madness. Teachers are having a hard time finding enough kids to conduct classes. Our library, gym and auditorium were closed every single day for the last two weeks, for state required testing. The same thing will happen this week and each week until the end of May.

It is also a challenge for teachers trying to get ready for state required testing in the next few weeks. They are finding up to half of their classes gone- taking yet more state required testing.

And don’t think the bill Rick Scott just signed will help next year. There is not one single state required test given this year that is eliminated next year. In fact, testing is longer and more subjects are tested this year than ever before. High schools are hit the hardest.

The new Algebra II EOC exam takes two days and at least 120 minutes. The new ELA test is also two days and at least 120 minutes. There are other EOC exams in Algebra I, Geometry, U.S. History and Biology. And I almost forgot the new writing test which takes longer than the former one.

Don’t be fooled by news reports that state required testing is being scaled back.  The “PERT” test that you might hear about will be given again because it is still part of the accountability(sic) system. It helps school grades and can count as a graduation requirement. You can bet that every district will give this test. It is not really optional.The legislature tried to fool us into thinking they did kids a favor by making it optional. Schools will still be desperate to boost (phony) school grades by continuing to give this (phony) test.

Did I mention that many schools are testing double sessions? There are AM and PM sessions.  Not much teaching is going on but there is testing. Schools also had to purchase headphones for testing. Computer upgrades will be needed each year. Districts have to buy thousands of laptops to feed the testing beast. The beast is hungry and must be fed each year.

Do these tests really matter? Nope.Well if you are a politician you need them to push your fantasies and agendas.  But do they really matter or indicate anything? Nope. Can teachers reviews the questions to see if they are valid? Can students see the tests? Can these tests be used as diagnostic tools? No, no and no.

Why don’t we let teachers evaluate students like private and religious schools do? Follow the money.

State mandated testing is about control, agendas, and power. What if we simply stopped showing up? Why continue to sacrifice kids on the altar of scapegoating?

The testing beast must be fed and our teachers and students are on the menu.

FL Senate Rules Chairman David Simmons is WRONG

Today,State Senator David Simmons- R-Altamonte Springs said, “We want to make sure students are being tested but not overtested, and whatever test instrument is used is reliable and valid.”

Here is my response:

1. Why do “we” want to make sure kids are tested by standardized tests? Why not let teachers evaluate their students like in private schools and in every other civilized nation in the world? Follow the money and power.

2. Simmons does not trust teachers and knows he needs massive testing to create the narrative he wants to sell.

3. Even with the changes proposed this year-we will still spend 80-90 days a year on state mandated testing next year.

4. If Simmons and his friends wanted a valid and reliable test, they would never have allowed this to happen. They simply got something caught in a wringer.

5. If Simmons is so worried about over testing -why has he voted to increase testing in the past?

6. Do not fall for the lie that the massive testing regimen that currently exists in FL is “accountability.” It is politics at its most damaging. It is a parlor game that the grifters in the legislature have used for years.

Simmons is another one asking us to ignore the man behind the curtain.

Florida Testing Takes over Schools Again

Here is part of an email that was forwarded to me from a teacher.

“Because of retake testing & preparation for FSA’s in April ALL Public Labs and COWs are being used in some capacity ( testing or ePat/FSA training). ”

COWS are laptops. The state requires all students to take ePat and FSA training tests for EACH EOC or FSA test they take- another loss of teaching time. Labs are testing centers- not places of learning or research.

This is the sickness that infects our schools.

Florida Opt Out Movement has Status Quo Testing Shills on the Run

The threat of parents and students opting out of the massive and useless Florida testing regimen has status quo testing shills shaking their rattles around the state as they yell from the top rungs of their cribs from Key West to the Panhandle.

Last week Senator Don “big daddy” Gaetz blamed “adults” for the testing frenzy around the state. This is the guy who has voted to increase testing more than anyone in the legislature. Don “Pearson” Gaetz does not want to give up the phony accountability of testing. It is the only thing he has to cling to his power. Of course kids in independent and religious schools get real accountability from teachers – not state tests. Why can’t we all have this benefit? Well, follow the money and the power (trips).

Columbia County Superintendent Terry Huddleston, as reported in the Tampa Bay Times, has threatened nine year old students with retention if they refuse to test. Of course- under law- students have the right to use portfolio assessments for good cause. I hope a lawyer will sue this guy from hell to breakfast. Can you imagine holding back hundreds of students who refuse to test?

Gaetz, Huddleston and Pam Stewart are engaged in educational gangsterism. The threats smack of an earlier time in America when Jim Crow ran wild.

The Florida DOE and legislature will fight to keep the billion dollar testing industry afloat as long as possible. They need their testing hammer to create any narrative they want. Most of all- they hate when parents and students really choose.

Well, we do not need to ask permission to raise our fists- Tommie Smith and John Carlos taught us that.

The message from those who choose to opt out are sending is- come get us. We want our schools back. COME GET US.

Did FL Legislature Ease Testing ? Nope.

Headlines are announcing that the legislature has scaled back testing. The  facts show otherwise.

A. Not one test that was (will be) given this year- is eliminated next year. In fact, there is an additional EOC starting this year.

B. While PERT is no longer mandatory – if the law changes – you can bet every single district will still give it. Why? It helps school grades and offers a chance to meet some graduation requirements.

C. Still required are ePAT practice tests that students must take for EVERY EOC.

The problem is the testing culture. Today, Senator Don “big daddy” Gaetz continued the accountability myth by saying we need to divert billions to more tests and testing infrastructure to measure schools and students. This shows utter contempt for teachers and students. As colleges and independent (private) schools know – teachers provide accountability without the need for a  massive diversion of time and money to standardized testing.

Gaetz, Stargel, Legg, Chrisafulli, Fresen, Flores and the rest of the clown car have a political agenda. Don’t buy their premise that test scores matter. They love making our schools test prep centers. They use testing as a hammer to maintain power. 

So despite what the legislature says- it is the status quo.

LBJ & Media Love Affair is Dishonest 

There is a lot of coverage of the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act and the “We shall overcome” speech by President Johnson.

What you will not hear about -from the mainstream media- is the  crushing failure of much of LBJ’s “Great Society.”

By 1968 hundreds of American cities were burning.  Racial and anti-war riots were rocking the core of the American spirit. Assassinations fueled the fires.

Johnson had put over 500,000 men and women in Vietnam. 90% of public schools in the South remained segregated. It would take a Republican-Richard Nixon- to desegregate the public schools of the South. The nation was coming apart. Tommie Smith and John Carlos highlighted the growing inequality in America in dramatic fashion at the 1968 Summer Olympics with beads to symbolize lynchings and black gloved salutes that shook the nation.

Johnson decided not to run for office again and the police beat American citizens senseless at the Chicago Democratic convention. The social contract and social fabric was torn asunder as the nation -and race relations- spun out of control. In 1968- LBJ dithered while America burned.

The Florida Testing Thief

Florida has more testing this year than ever before. Schools are now testing morning and afternoon sessions. There is no chance to teach with chunks of your classes missing throughout the day. This current round will last from March 2 until the end of May. Gyms, libraries and labs have been turned into testing centers. The Florida legislature is addicted to testing. Well, they are addicted to expensive testing that makes some very wealthy. The Florida legislature, Governor and DOE do not want teachers to evaluate their own students. Why? They can’t manipulate that data like they can with standardized tests. The state feels testing is accountability. Religious and independent schools know that teachers – not standardized testing – provide accountability. “Accountability” has become a political term that appeals to the darker angels that motivate many politicians.

The Hidden Costs of New Florida Testing Enterprise 

Florida has increased testing this year. There are more tests and they take more time. Many schools have gone to double testing sessions each day with morning and afternoon  testing groups. Schools are using gyms, libraries and even auditoriums to handle all the testing. Schools had to buy headphones for each student as well as backup batteries for laptops.

Here are some costs for one Florida school…

Headphones $22,000     

Tables to use for testing in gym  $1,000

Extra laptop batteries to handle more testing  $11,000

Did I mention that with testing from now until the end of May- it will be a rare day when many teachers have anything close to full classes?

Sonny and Cher were right. The beat goes on.

Florida- Cradle to Grave Testing

This document shows that Florida is now requiring an assessment system for Pre-K. Get them addicted, hating school and comfortably numb early on, eh?

The Audacity of Randi Weingarten

AFT leader Randi Weingarten has shown recent concern for various companies building their brands in our schools.
Randi is referring to various items in vending machines, on specialty lunch menus and from direct advertising.
What mock outrage and what irony!
Weingarten has the audacity to prattle on about food and beverage companies while SHE is a leader in building the PEARSON brand in our schools.
Not only does AFT argue for the continuation of massive standardized testing in schools, they have also worked directly with PARCC on test questions.
Few have done more to build the brands of testing companies than AFT.
I’ll have a Big Mac please…

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