Miami Dade County Executive Board says ” Suspend FSA Test Accountability”

Miami Dade County Council Executive Board Says “Suspend FSA Test Accountability”

After hearing compelling testimony from parents and teachers, the Executive Board of Miami Dade PTA/PTSA voted during its March 2015 meeting to ask the Florida Board of Education and the Florida Legislature to suspend accountability measures linked to this year’s FSA test.
For months, we parents, teachers, students, school personnel and administration have expressed numerous concerns regarding the new Florida Standards Assessments (FSA). Our concerns have been overlooked and now, we have little, if any, faith left in the remainder of this year’s tests.

The first week of testing proved that the state moved too quickly to administer this high-stakes test. Many issues occurred during week one, and many issues remain. For example:

1) Software glitches prevented many students and test administrators from logging onto the system, causing many districts to temporarily suspend the testing.
2) A significant percentage of students were not able to complete the testing because of technical issues.
3) Hundreds of Central Florida’s students taking the writing portion of the ELA exam had their essays lost. Some have been recovered, but not all.
4) A so-called cyber attack late in week one of the test resulted in some “white screens” when students logged in, further disrupting testing.
5) The online system momentarily stopped during testing for some students, making them fear their essays had been lost. Some work reappeared. Some vanished.
6) Was the test compromised? Some students were able to log onto the exam and read the question, known as a “prompt.” Others were not. Days later, when testing resumed, were the students who were able to read the prompt able to prepare their answers, causing the test to be compromised?
7) With the computer-based reading and math testing starting in April, tests that are more interactive (computer maneuvering needed) than the writing test, students with limited exposure to technology will be at a disadvantage.

Current state policies based on this year’s FSA test results include retaining 3rd graders who do not pass the test; withholding graduation from high school for 10th grade students who do not pass the language arts exam; state grades for public schools; and teacher evaluations.

Yesterday the Senate Appropriations Committee took one small step in the direction of common sense: it amended CS/SB 616 (Education Accountability) so as to unlink 3rd grade promotion and high school graduation from this year’s FSA test results. At the same time, the amended bill provides for the notification of parents whose children perform poorly so that they can better work with teachers and school administrators to boost learning in the coming year.

CS/SB 616 will be heard April 1 on the Senate floor, where it can be amended once again. The Executive Board of Miami Dade County PTA/PTSA does not believe that accountability should be derived from the results of a single test, particularly one whose implementation has been so flawed.

We respectfully call upon the Senate to take the next step–the right step. While informing parents, teachers, and school administrators of FSA results when they become available, suspend all accountability measures based on 2014-2015 student performance.