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Smart school testing decision on opt-out proposal

September 10, 2014
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Less than one week after voting to "opt out" of statewide testing requirements, the School Board of Lee County rescinded that vote with an eye toward a more measured approach.

We applaud that decision and thank board member Mary Fischer for bringing the issue back to the table and for doing so so promptly.

It was the right thing to do as there was no replacement plan in place, putting the education of the children we entrust to the district's care, and state education dollars, at risk.

"We need a plan and a timeline in the best interests of the students. The journey begins with a single step," Ms. Fischer, the swing vote on the opt-out proposal said of her re-consideration. "The immediate opt-out had consequences not in the best interests of the district or the community at large."

Indeed.

Consider:

State-mandated testing is set to begin this month.

The opt-out vote proposed nothing specific to take its place.

The Florida School Boards Association advised that students who do not take the required standardized tests would not meet the requirements for a high school diploma and would miss the opportunity to earn college credits.

The opt-out vote proposed nothing specific to address this reality.

Education funding is tied to compliance with state law that mandates adherence to standardized testing parameters.

We're talking $280 million - yes million - in federal money funneled through the state.

The action also put Certificates of Participation dollars in jeopardy.

The opt-out vote provided no Plan B to deal with the very real specter of an almost immediate funding shortage.

So what's next?

Cape Coral City Councilmember Derrick Donnell, a school administrator, provided some sound advice which can be summed up succinctly: Control what you can control.

That's tackling the state testing/excessive testing/high stakes testing at the local level now.

Dr. Donnell advised that 60 percent of the tests administered actually are within the district's control.

Reel in what can be reeled in without negatively affecting students or the money needed to provide the "world class education" the district promises them.

Partnering with other districts while also developing a strong, defensible and compliant replacement plan also makes good sense

And common sense -not emotion, not rhetoric, not political posturing- is what is seriously needed here.

The vote to rescind and move forward in a different direction is a much better action.

Observer editorial

 
 

 

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