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Tampa Bay Times- Wrong on Common Core Testing

A recent editorial in the Tampa Bay times looks eerily similar to the Common Core propaganda pieces published by Jeb Bush, Mark Wilson of the Florida Chamber and several former Florida GOP leaders. I doubt the “author” spent a day teaching or he/she would not have tried to fool the public with more tripe reminiscent of press releases from the Jeb Bush organization. How could this paper get so much wrong? Since when has the Tampa Bay Times become flacks for Common Core, Jeb Bush and Tony Bennett? Did Patty Levesque write this?

Let’s look at a few things the Tampa Bay Times said that are either misleading or flat out wrong.

Times:  ” For example, their letter to Bennett last week says the PARCC assessments will take about 20 days of testing for students. That is misleading at best. Individual students in third grade, for example, would face eight hours of testing at midyear and eight hours at the end of the year. The 20 days refers to the maximum window schools might need to get all students tested at the middle and end of the year, and the window could be as narrow as five days.”

Response from REAL teacher: Does the editorial shill realize that 8 hours is about four days of testing? This does not include extra days needed to get all tested. So we already have (at least) an extra 8 days of testing. This assumes students will be tortured with 2 hours of testing a day. Third graders testing two hours a day for four days in a row- twice a year, in addition to all the other required testing? Dear Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board; “Are you nuts?” I do not think the Times realizes the testing we already have. Many high schools spend the last 35 days of the year- testing. The total for the entire year is near 80. The only thing “misleading” here is that the shill did not do their homework on the time testing takes in schools.  It is hardly hyperbolic to say that Common Core testing will mean a massive increase in testing.  It already takes at least a week to get through ONE EOC exam in high schools. Libraries are closed and converted to test centers and computer labs are no longer used for research or projects- taken over for non-stop testing. 

Times: ” Some conservatives are praising the idea that Florida would drop out of PARCC and argue that strengthens the case for repealing the standards. That would be a mistake and set back state and national efforts to raise the bar for public education.”

Response from REAL teacher:  It is not just conservatives. There is anger on all sides here.  Also the times makes the sweeping (and without evidence) statement that getting rid of the standards would ” … be a mistake and set back state and national efforts to raise the bar for public education.” The Times has no evidence that Common Core has any value. It also sets up the false premise that we are in some crisis and need more testing and more standards. Again, the Times is pushing propaganda that is beneath the dignity of  the profession. This editorial sounds exactly like what Bush, Levesque, Bennett and other privateers are saying. 

Times: ” Bush suggests Bennett could propose using the ACT or SAT for high school students, which might be a viable alternative.”

Response from REAL teacher: This is not a viable alternative. The ACT/SAT were NEVER designed to be FORCED on students. Florida is a leader in bastardizing tests. Now Bush and the Times want schools to be ACT/SAT prep centers? Billions more get pushed into the coffers of Pearson and other test preparation outfits. 

Times: “…results of the new tests would enable apples-to-apples comparisons from state to state and replace the patchwork of tests that make it difficult to determine how Florida students compare to their peers in North Carolina or Indiana.”

Response from a REAL teacher: We already do this. Ever hear of NAEP? 


*I am convinced the editorial in the Times was written by someone who does not have a clue about how much testing takes up instructional time or even how much testing is actually required.  In Florida, students are even required to take a SEPARATE “ePat” test for EACH FCAT or EOC they take. This practice test supposedly familiarizes them with the complex computer testing. Each “ePat” pulls students out of learning time for 45 to 60 minutes.

Dear Times Editorial Board: STOP playing the Common Core testing parlor games that the Legislature, Mr. Bennett and Mr. Bush created. No matter what test scheme is used you cannot avoid the following empirical mountain. Test scores, for the most part, fall along socioeconomic lines. You might as well give the New York Times Crossword Puzzle. Florida has long used testing as a political hammer and this must end. Until professional teachers are trusted to evaluate students- the sham Florida accountability system will go on.


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