By Roger Caldwell
There is a new opponent of FCAT testing in an ad on television, and Governor Scott is doing the talking. Some think that this is a campaign ad designed to improve Scott’s image, and others think he is getting on a train that has already left the station. Nevertheless, the test was phased out by the legislation, and signed into law by Governor Crist in 2010.
There are many different motivations and reasons why a governor decides to pass a law, and a governor is always evolving and growing. When Governor Scott was first elected to office, he was a big supporter of FCAT and the testing. Now it appears that the governor is thinking differently in 2012 a-bout the FCAT.
“I’ve listened to the frustrations parents and teachers have with the FCAT. Next year we begin improving our testing system. No more teaching to the test,” says Scott.
No one really knows exactly what this statement means, but our governor is starting to listen to what the people are saying, and this is a good starting point. The Florida Education Association, the state largest teacher union has always criticized the FCAT, believing it was not the best measure of our children’s progress.
The students that will take the FCAT this year will be among the last, but testing is not going away. It appears that there will be a new comprehensive testing system that is called “the Common Core State Standards,” and it will be used nationwide. The details are sketchy, but teachers, parents, and community leaders have weighed in to help create the program.
“The standards clearly communicate what is expected of students at each grade level. This will allow our teachers to be better equipped to know exactly what they need to help students learn and establish individualized benchmarks for them. The Common Core State Standards focus on core conceptual understandings and procedures starting in the early grades, thus enabling teachers to take the time needed to teach core concepts, and give students the opportunity to master them,” says the Common Core Committee.
There is a crisis in public education and on paper the Common Core Standards appear to be a program that could correct some of the problems in the country. America needs to get back to supporting strong public schools, and maybe Governor Scott can become a big supporter of the public school system with the new Common Core Standards.
It is important that certain components in the FCAT system are kept, such as grading schools, because FCAT did raise standards in the Florida public school system. The FCAT system was also a driver and it motivated certain individuals to excel.
There will always be testing in a school environment, and if Scott is sincere about improving the Florida public school system, the proof will be in his educational budget. It is too early to tell if Governor Scott has seen the light, and his new budget increases the educational budget for our children and the Florida public school system.