Florida test scores bring more questions than answers
May 21st, 2012
06:16 AM ET

Florida test scores bring more questions than answers

by Donna Krache, CNN

(CNN) - The Florida Department of Education has released the results of its most recent statewide standardized tests, the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test  in reading and writing.

Results for the FCAT reading tests for grades nine and 10 showed that 52% of those students were reading at or above grade level, virtually unchanged from 2011, according to the Florida Department of Education.

This year’s writing test results, however, revealed a far different story. Writing scores have plunged. Last year 81% of fourth-graders scored a 4 (at grade level) or higher on a 6-point scale. This year, only 27% did.

Last year, 82% of eighth-graders scored a 4 or higher. This year, only 33% did. Among 10th-graders last year, 80% scored 4 or higher, but in 2012, 38% did.

A 4 used to be the score that demonstrated that a student was performing at grade level, but in an emergency meeting last week, the state Board of Education decided to revise that benchmark to a 3.

The board said it didn’t want to lower grading standards but took action while the state looks for reasons why writing scores dropped so much this year.

Possible reasons for the plunge

Critics say that changes to this year’s writing test – changes the state says were necessary to align expectations with more rigorous standards – were pushed through too quickly, and that neither teachers nor students were prepared.

"The dramatic drop in writing scores shows that the system is a failure," said Andy Ford, president of the Florida Education Association. “The FEA has always opposed and questioned the overreliance on standardized testing,” he wrote on the union’s website.

But state officials say that the system is in transition as it adjusts its expectations of students.

In the state’s press release, Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson said, “We are asking more from our students and teachers than we ever have, and I am proud of their hard work. … As Florida transitions to higher standards and higher expectations, we can expect our assessment results to reflect those changes."

In this most recent FCAT 2.0 writing exam, there was greater scoring emphasis on “writing conventions” - grammar, spelling and punctuation - as well as “the quality of details”  in students’ essays.

On its website, the state DOE warns against comparing this year’s scores with the previous year’s because of the differences in grading the tests.

Why the scores matter

The FCAT writing test is a 45-minute assessment where students must write on an assigned topic. Fourth-graders write stories on a given subject, while eighth- and 10th-graders write persuasive essays on specific topics.

The test results are used for student and teacher evaluation. Under the state’s “value-added” model for teacher performance, a teacher’s job performance is based, in large part, on students’ testing scores. Grade promotion is also based on FCAT results. In addition, FCAT scores are a factor in determining school grades and whether a school makes Adequate Yearly Progress.

FCAT results are watched by educators and political leaders around the United States. Other states have looked to Florida’s testing to develop their own accountability systems in response to No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top mandates.

But there has also been a backlash in recent years against what has become known as “high-stakes testing.”

Read the story and listen to the podcast: The high stakes of standardized tests

School boards and activist groups across the U.S. have passed resolutions, published studies, promoted “opt out” testing boycotts by parents, and urged elected officials to repeal requirements for school districts to conduct standardized tests.

Florida’s attempt to “grade on the curve” supplies more ammunition for critics of standardized tests, who say that states have come to rely too much on them and that they produce little evidence of learning.

The recent FCAT writing scores and the discussion around what they mean have added more fuel to the fire in that debate.

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Filed under: Policy • Practice • Testing
soundoff (487 Responses)
  1. Rkowalski1954

    I wonder how many of those were illegals who the whites have to support?

    May 24, 2012 at 11:12 am |
  2. Grandmother Moon

    The truly SAD part of this is, the FCAT is a scam. Its entire purpose is to generate money for companies who specialize in "coaching" students to pass the test and to destroy the Florida public school system. My daughter was considered "in danger" of failing the FCAT (despite her high grades), so she was put in a "remedial reading" class (the kid could read my college texts without any comprehension difficulties) and I was advised to contact Sylvan or Hunter or one of the other "recommended" tutoring companies (I didn't, because I was having trouble keeping a roof over our heads at the time). Her remedial teacher figured out rather quickly she wasn't there to tutor kids to read to grade level, as most of the kids already could. So what she did was teach them how to pass the FCAT. Period. It worked, no one in her class failed. She and I had an interesting discussion about the FCAT, where she basically outlined the intended goal: to completely privatize Florida schools, that they would all be preferably religious (mostly Christian, with a few Jewish as a bone), that they would be run as "for-profit" with "non-profit" tax status, and that vouchers would also be funneled to the tutoring companies like Sylvan. The best way to do that is to make sure the college bound kids, whose parents are most likely to pay for private tutoring, are the ones who (ironically) have the most difficulty passing the test – by giving them a "loaded" test, above their grade level, and a "regular" test to the lower graded students. And if you talk to the kids, it's painfully obvious they're not all getting the same (or similiar) tests. The more I read stories like this, the more I believe her. I also have a friend who is getting out of the teaching profession, which is a real shame, because she's a great teacher, but she is at the point that all she is teaching her third graders is how to pass the FCAT – and nothing else. She says she is inundated with pamphlets and ads for the tutoring companies to give to parents so they'll spend a gazillion bucks making sure little Suzie can read. Oh, and they have to have a certain amount who will never pass, because it will guarantee a steady supply of under-educated workers for the tourist industry. This is neither a Republican nor Democrat dominted problem – they're ALL in on it. The powers that be do not want an educated electorate/work force.

    May 23, 2012 at 9:57 am |
  3. ddnlj

    It's time government get out of education and let educators do the job of teaching children. Standardized tests, as created and mandated by the government, has done more harm to school children than anything else in the last 50 years.

    May 23, 2012 at 8:31 am |
  4. george

    I know first hand that an eight grade reading level means reading sentences like, "The duck flew over the pond". It's good that the state apparently raised their standards so much. unfortunately it will take time to adjust.

    May 22, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
  5. hailmacey

    I think its high time parents are held responsible for their children and people stop blaming under paid teachers for their failed parenting. I am a single mom, working my butt off, raising 2 daughters by myself. I am very busy, but my children come first, their education comes first, their discipline come first. I work with their teachers not against them! Its time for parents to start taking responsibility!

    May 22, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Noelle

      Thank you for what you do. I wish all of my students had a mother like you.

      May 31, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
  6. J

    There are several reasons for the failure of 50% of students on the FCAT. One of them being changing the test at the last minutes and raising the expectations. Beyond that, here's my experience with FL schools, and it makes me question many things. I a military spouse with two children– one gifted and one in SPED. We chose a house in a district with a highly rated school, in fact my daughter's Kindergarten teacher was FL's teacher of the year. We fully expected both children to attend the same school, and that's what the administration said. Upon arriving, we were informed my son would be going to a different school 30 minutes away (and if he were to ride the bus he would need to be ready for the bus at 5:30 AM). The school he went to– his classroom was a converted band room, there were toys and very little educational material in the classroom. The school administration and district administration was very underhanded when dealing with us. Their behavior was down right bullying when it came to my son. I expressed that I wanted my daughter tested for the gifted and talented program in September, it is now May, and I just got the permission slip for her to be tested. As a parent, I question the legitimacy of any educational system that treats parents in this way. When you literally break the law (in our case IDEA– least restrictive environment and Military Child Compact Act– following a child's IEP from a different state as to not degrade services), it calls into question the entire state educational system. When my son started to have behavior issues, I gave the teachers resources– his therapists, people who offered to be his aide free of charge, advocates, and his former teachers and therapists. Instead of utilizing these people the district got defensive about their practices, stating over and over again, "we cannot afford an aide," or "we cannot afford your child's accomodations." Even though we offered to PAY for those accomodations. They refused to allow me to volunteer in his classroom, they refused to allow me bring in an aide I paid for, they refused to call his former teacher, they refused to allow his behaviorial therapist come to school. They implied that the only way that my son was going to receive additional aide was if he was going to fail and advised we change his academic standards (so that they could justify putting him in a class with even lower functioning children at a different school), it gave me a broad picture of what these administrators and teachers felt about children. They expect failure. They complain that parents are uninvolved, but when we try to be involved and we try to further our children's education the door is slammed in our face and the teachers got defensive. At home, my son did not have the behaviors described to us by the teachers, we worked on them specifically in therapy.

    The environment we had between August and January was hard. My son had acting out behaviors to include self injurious ones. I had tried to give the educators every resource to prevent and stop these behaviors, and they either got defensive or allowed them to continue (to include allowing him to bang his head on a table 14 times without putting him in a restraining hold– which I authorized the school to use) we eventually pulled my son into a private school. We are considering doing the same with my daughter, as their idea of gifted and talented, instead of pull out into a grade level above is handing out more worksheets, reading, and homework. And don't even get me started on extra curriculars. My daughter was in little league– there were try outs and drafting in Kindergarten.

    This problem isn't teacher specific, nor is it parent specific. It's environmental and cultural specific. Involved parents, who call the administration and teachers to task, have the doors slammed in their face if they are critical of how things are done, particularly if the school and administration and willfully disobeying the mandates of educational law. Until the students are up to snuff, cut the athletic programs. The coaches salaries in high school sports are ridiculously high in comparison to special education specialists. Their students are performing academically, their salaries should be based on that. Have an open door policy with parents. Visit successful school systems. The best school system we were ever involved with was in Dayton, OH. I went into an IEP meeting and they told me– mainstreamed, inclusion, with a qualified aide. And of all places Dayton, OH could not afford such things, but the priority was different. The district I am in in FL is number 1 in the state, and the emphasis is on being state of the art and technologically savvy. In OH, the emphasis was EDUCATION. Teachers were given the freedom to teach outside of the lesson plan. The doors were always open. I could call my son's teacher at any time. I was treated as an inconvenience or in a defensive manner. If I gave a suggestion– it was FOLLOWED. Maybe administrators could take a page from other states that are ranked higher in education. Instead of blaming everyone and their mother. Look in the mirror. My kids are at the stage were they want to learn– my son has already been told not two weeks into the current school year that he is expected to fail. And this is why FL schools are failing.

    May 22, 2012 at 7:13 am |
    • Dude

      J – you must have missed the part where they actually LOWERED expectations to keep the kids from failing. That is, by definition, a decline in education.

      May 22, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  7. pop

    Union Teachers spelled "GRAMMER", "YESTURDAY" this way.

    May 21, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
  8. Bill-de-Dee

    Teachers blame everyone but themselves! The Republicans, standardized testing, parents, students....everyone but the people who are doing the rotten job. In any other industry, if you said 'it's not MY fault" as often as teachers do, you'd be fired. I agree with the previous poster – Teachers have become nothing but Democratic mobsters – and yet are too blinded to see that it is the Democrats who fire teachers, firefighters, and police BEFORE cutting ANYTHING else (and use it as an excuse to say the GOP is "hurting the unions") ...when did the last Dem say "lets cut funding for poop-as-art programs, or special funds for "underprivilged" single moms, or bike-paths, or industry tax cuts, or ANYTHING, before we let teachers go!" – It aint going to happen Teach! They throw you under the bus everytime, first thing, for political gain!

    Btw: the poster who claims to have 2 degrees (I do too btw) and only makes $33k p/ year....apparently you can't don anything else with those degrees or you'd have a better paying job! If you're that dense I don't want you teaching! maybe you just don't know how to do math: see below!
    check the facts: bls.gov shows mean wage of middle school teachers as over $55k p/year...over $6,000 a month based on a 9 month work year. At 7 hours a day, 5 days a week they work about 35 hours p/week or 140 p/month (1/2 a week less than most Americans!) which comes out to an average of $42.85+ per month!
    This is waaay to much for people who turn out a substandard product. Everyone has problems they have to deal with on their jobs, Teachers just don't know it because most haven't ever worked a real job.

    I taught for 3 years and I had all the issues these yutz's whine about....but....so what?!! I'm currently a very well paid computer programmer and I STILL have rotten, foul mouthed customers, bosses who make more than they should for the incompetent fools they are, and feel I'm under appreciated....so what?? Do I demand a union and the villification of anyone who disagrees with me? do I demand that my job should be protected? ha!

    May 21, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • PK

      So why did you quit teaching after three years, it apparently wasn't the salary or was it? Also, when they remove the salaries of administrators from the average teacher's salary I'm sure the mean income will be lower.

      May 22, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • Jay

      The median salary would be the more accurate measure here. Some teachers may have issues, not all. Speaking in absolutes makes no sense. There are great parents and great teachers, there are mediocre parents and teachers, and there are incompetent parents and teachers. "Teachers" and "parents" bear the same responsibility as do citizens without children. It takes a village.

      May 22, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  9. Moncada

    (J) Of course physical education is necessary and like you said we should not prioritize athletics (football, soccer, etc.) over academics.However in many cases the nation does. My cousins decided to go to a high school just because they had a good football team while I offered them to come to my magnet school (B.C.H.S.) or any magnet school but they declined. Now I am far ahead of them.

    May 21, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
  10. Nam Vet

    Bush's Every-Child-Left-Behind polices running to a natural conclusion.

    May 21, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
  11. abbydelabbey

    but what do they care about that in Florida? as long as they have their guns!

    May 21, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • Arthur Applegate

      Don't forget the cell phones. As long as they are educated enough to work a smart phone they are OK.

      May 22, 2012 at 7:11 am |
    • ken

      Nice comment, typical closed-minded answer! Comment on the real topic, not something else that has no bearing on the issue!

      May 22, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • ken

      my comment was to abby

      May 22, 2012 at 10:13 am |
  12. MDhistory

    I just returned from a trip to China yesterday. I asked my guide as well as two different MD's in China re their education system. What they told me- so this is hearsay – is that China pays for school for 9 years only and then subsequently the family pays. The family pays for textbooks for the first 9 years while in public schools. All children learn a second language (english) from grade school on. School hours (in high school) are approximately 7-730 – 5 pm with 2 months off / year. Class size is not necessarily small with one physician telling me that his son was in a high school where average class size of 50 students.

    The work ethic there is incredible and students aren't treated as equals. It is acknowledged that not everyone can excel and students aren't put forward to help the system's statistics.

    The medical school experience is very different from the US as well. The students are encouraged to become physician scientists (more along the lines of MD/PHD rather than clinicians).

    The US can't compete with this kind of system by insisting that students with limited potential receive similar education to those with marked potential. Education is taken for granted and is not a privilege. Limited hours, long vacations, etc all are contributing to the 'dumbing' down of America.

    May 21, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
  13. Bob Valiant

    The end of the school year approaches and we cannot undo the damage caused by this year's high-stakes testing frenzy, the school closures, the teachers' humiliation from the release of unreliable and invalid VAM rankings, the children's stress, the lost instructional time, or the dollars wasted on disproven "reforms."

    What we can do is stop the stupidity from being repeated. You can join the over 7100 parents and educators who have recognized what is happening and have signed the Open Letter to Obama calling for:

    *An immediate end to high-stakes student testing and the use of incentives or penalties to compel states and municipalities to use student scores as a basis for evaluating teachers, preferring charter schools to existing public schools, and requiring closure of low performing schools.
    *The removal of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education and his replacement by a lifetime educator who has the confidence of the nation’s teachers.
    *The incorporation of parents, teachers, and school administrators in all policy discussion taking place in your administration, inside and outside the Department of Education.
    *Create a National Commission, in which teachers and parent representatives play a primary role, which explores how to best improve the quality of America’s schools.

    Please come on board before the mistakes of the past are revisited on our children next school year. http://dumpduncan.org/

    May 21, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • Shaun

      Never a good idea to have a person in a career field decided if they're needed or not; because they generally believe that their jobs are important.
      Getting rid of standardized test just cover-up the problem. America needs to remodel school systems with countries that have higher education scores in mind. Stop wasting money by putting a elementary school or middle school in every municipality.
      I say get rid of some teachers and refocus that money into more activities for students. Stop trying to say every preK-12 needs the same education. It would be better if people could focus on the aspects of education that they show interest in. I say four years of Literature is not required for someone looking into an IT position, but fours years of Math and Science would be. Get rid of second language as a requirement; once again should be taught to those looking into Humanity type careers.

      May 21, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
  14. Rob in FL

    Florida schools are being privatized to FOR-PROFIT corporations, and the level of education keeps going down due to budget cuts, but rather than FIXING the problem the Board of Education is now lowering the standards.
    Americans rank 25th in the world for education, FL wouldn't even make last on the list.

    May 21, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
  15. Jeb

    This is your state's school system if it's Republican run.

    May 21, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • Rkowalski1954

      If we didn't have all the illegal who are democrats then Florida would be OK>

      May 24, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  16. GetSmart

    Why is America so dumb? I mean seriously people, it is high time for a reality check. Most American students are dumb and yet they still think they are super geniuses. If a student is dumb, tell them that. The problem is that most Americans don't believe in learning and believe that their kid is special in their own special way. Well guess what, your kid is not special unless you say they are especially dumb. Accept the facts and make a change. Man up and say the truth. People may not like the true but that is because they are weak and are sissies.

    May 21, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
  17. right on 2

    As a public teacher, I can tell you that teachers work harder and harder than they EVER have been. My colleagues and myself look like crap because we are overworked and overstressed. A summary of my day just today? Morning duty, recess duty, lunch duty, ARD (special ed meeting), and after school bus duty. I was interrupted about every 15 seconds all day by disrespectful kids. I wrote 3 notes to go home on Friday for behavior and only got one of them returned today, so the other two kids had to sit out at recess. Lunch? I waffled it down in 10 minutes in order to have a tiny bit of planning time. My boss? Blames our low scores on US TEACHERS and is moving us around into different grade levels like chess pieces on a game board for next year. Teachers are crying and stressed out. There is a camera that is viewed daily to make sure we don't arrive too late or leave too early. It also monitors how well we keep our kids controlled in the hall. That was just today. Tomorrow is another slew of issues.

    My opinion on all of this? We are the only ones working harder.
    Problem #1- Parents barely check folders and complete homework or sign behavior charts.
    Problem #2- We have to read a scripted curriculum (that is EXTREMELY boring for the kids– and us). We get regular walkthroughs from the curriculum department to make sure we are towing the line and are threatened with our jobs if we dot teach it. Then we get regular negative feedback when one of the scripted lessons we were forced to implement were not good.
    Problem #3- We have an overinflated administration. Last year we experienced major cuts. Not one of them was in an upper level 100k plus salary but in all our aides and support staff (and a couple of teachers too). It takes about 5 aide salaries to equal one administrative salary. There is NO classroom supply money. At the end of the year we were told there was 100 dollars for each grade level. That was 25 bucks for my class. I bought one game. I had to buy all staples, extra scissors and any supplies myself, which means I didn't buy much.
    Problem 4- Too many kids and not enough help. With all the aides cut, we get no intervention for struggling kids. We have to do the RTI ourselves. When we think a kid needs special ed, they push more paperwork back in our face to fill out and more one on one interventions we have to do ourselves. We are simply spread too thin to give each child the attention he or she deserves.

    May 21, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • J

      In our district they send them to a different school all together. When the students services get cut, and behaviors start, the teachers blame the parents. Well, my son went from full inclusion with an aide to self contained classroom with no aide in 3 weeks, of course behaviors were through the roof, because he was not being challenge and he had no peer role models (he was the highest functioning kid in the classroom). It's ridiculous. Yet the district can afford to pay $85K for the football coach.

      May 21, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • D. Darko

      Thanks for sharing your perspective. As someone who just finished scoring the 8th grade essays, I agree with you 100%. Some of what you say regarding class discipline is echoed in many of the papers. Some of these schools must be very challenging to work in. Teachers deserve much more help than they are getting. And from the sounds of the papers, parents too often do not care, kids are infatuated with their cell phones, and they tend to be quite disrespectful. I feel for your and your colleagues, and I hope it gets better.

      To all people, vote for the GOP and things will only get worse. Any party that vilifies teachers is way off the mark, and not fit to run the country.

      May 21, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
      • D. Darko

        Sorry, that was for right on 2.

        May 21, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
      • CycloneMom

        Are eighth graders penalized for ending their sentences with a preposition? I am guessing the answer is "no" given the poster who graded the eighth grade essays chooses to do so.

        May 25, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Moncada

      I have always thought that high school sports were unnecessary; there is nothing wrong with basic PE, but no, the children want football, soccer, baseball and track. We need to put academics before athletics.

      May 21, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
      • J

        I think sports are a good thing, but not at the expense of education. I don't think it's right that the high school coach makes more than a high school teacher, but I do think that children should be given athletic opportunities. Look at the growing rate of childhood obesity and diabetes, that's what's happening when completely cut out athletics and physical education.

        There's a happy medium somewhere.

        May 21, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • ERO

      So basically what I am seeing is that you work a typical 9-5 job and work at home sometimes to finish the work. You are not alone but are too delusional to realize that.

      May 21, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • Thomas

      All true. Thank you for saying this.

      May 21, 2012 at 9:01 pm |

      @ Right on 2, I can see you're a teacher. You end sentences with prepositions. Good show, and thanks for nothing.

      /signed/ America

      May 22, 2012 at 4:14 am |
    • Arthur Applegate

      Quit and open a privet school. Or teach in industry, many employers pay to have their employees trained in new things or their skills upgraded.

      May 22, 2012 at 7:23 am |
  18. jen

    wait, I'm confused? Gop runs Florida and they have destroyed unions there. Teachers make crap pay, hardly any benefits, no rights, no unions, no say so shouldn't the kids be doing great on their tests? That's what Reps say when they want to lower pay and benefits and take away worker rights in OH, MI, WI, etc. that kids will do better and schools will be better if teachers don't have unions. Interesting.... unfortunately facts don't seem to matter anymore to these people. They only care about what they think and will dismiss any facts that do not support their preconceived notions. This ignorance will literally bring down our country.

    May 21, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • ERO

      Speaking of facts lets remember florida is filled with english second language students. WI and OH are like comparing apples to oranges. But hey I mean facts are only worth talking about if they are on your side.

      May 21, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
      • Moncada

        Apparently English was your second language. Or did they not teach you basic grammar and English rules in school?

        May 21, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
  19. A Nony Mouse

    I've been a teacher for 13 years. For starters disregard all You've heard on the other "we distort you deride" new site. I have 2 college drgrees, and am certified in 3 subjects yet in my thirteenth year, am making barely $33k (not 95 as the other site claimed).

    I've seen countless posts blaming unions but I'll give an anecdote why they're needed. I had a student who did nothing in class. He would slack and cause trouble. When I wrote him mup, the principal wouldn't enforce it because his mom was an exceptional PITA who refused to believe that her angel would misbehave. Any howmework assignments were written in her hand. At the end of the year, he tried to turn in extra credit (that his mom wrote). I refused to take it (it was handed in a half hour before grades were due), and flunked him for the marking period.

    The following year, the day before Thanksgiving break the mother came in and gave me my own session of primal scream therapy blaming me for a litany of transgressions (e.g. conspiring to keep him off the cross country team- which never was in any threat of not participating). After a 90 min "meeting," the principal had the audacity to suggest changing his F to a C!

    Teacher Unions are the "Second Ammendment" of the profession. Had I not been a member of the Union, that students grade would be changed without my consent or knowledge.

    Want to improve test scores? Make the students responsible for their passing, not the teacher. Many of my students don't take the test seriously. I've even heard some students say that they purposely failed a test in hopes of getting a teacher fired (one of our best teachers who truly challenges and makes them work). Make the students (not the parents) actually DO coursework (our superintendant told us that if a student flat-out refused to hand in assignment, we were forbidden to give a zero), or be responsible for the consequences if they choose not to do it.

    May 21, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • Moncada

      My mother did waver some of my courses to be Pre-AP instead of a regular class. I was sure not to fail because my parents would have giving me a nice lesson at home. Now I'm successful.

      May 21, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • J

      The priorities in this state are skewed. Our football coach makes twice what a teacher makes, they got $9.2 million in this county for being number one in the state of FL. What did they do with that money– they re-sodded the football field, they put an iPad lab in a kindergarten classroom, and they increased bandwidth in the school.

      My daughter is gifted, my son has autism. My daughter is allowed to go to one of the top rated schools in the district, she has the teacher of the year for the state of FL as a teacher, she is taught in Spanish and English, and given the best of everything. My son was sent to one of the worst schools in the state of FL, in a refurbished band room, where he was told constantly that he was "bad", made to wear pants in 90 degree heat (when we had just moved from the upper midwest), and I as a parent was told that in order to get him the help he needed to attain a fair and appropriate education that I should a. let him fail a grade or b. lower his education standards...

      They can afford a coach that makes $85K/year, but they can't afford an aide for a special education student. Oh and by the way, all my son's behavioral issues were my fault– it was because my husband was military and we moved too much, because my husband was gone, or because I am not a good parent. It was never because the teacher was not qualified. Ironically took him out of the school, he is in private school, and gee whiz he's meeting academic standards...

      May 21, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • GetSmart

      Thank you. This is really what we need. I am a student and I believe that our country currently has embarrassingly low standard for our education. People are failing because their parents say they are doing well when they actually aren't. Seriously people, man up. Tell people who are doing bad that they are doing bad. People are stupid and they need to know that so that they can improve. No one will improve if they think they are fine.

      May 21, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • Red Pen

      You need spell check.

      May 21, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • ERO

      Probably has a lot to do with the everyone deserves a chance BS that gets thousands of mindless idiots into college. Parents need to be held accountable. Children should be left behind. Its a waste of time and resources to burden a good teacher with bad students.

      May 21, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
  20. FLnumb

    state the obvious and true people, kids and young adults in Florida are just plain dumb and lazy.

    May 21, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • Rkowalski1954

      Or just illegals who are leeches.

      May 24, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  21. Mordac

    I'm so proud to be a Floridian right now!

    May 21, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
  22. Moncada

    Children from broken homes are not always going to be a problem, just listen to the Liz Murray story.

    May 21, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
  23. jb

    "In this most recent FCAT 2.0 writing exam, there was greater scoring emphasis on “writing conventions” – grammar, spelling and punctuation – as well as “the quality of details” ."

    That's pretty much what writing involves. What criteria was used for the previous year's higher scores? Grading parties or something similar? I'll bet that's a better story.

    May 21, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • Mordac


      May 21, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • D. Darko

      I scored the FCAT writing exam for 8th graders. I read hundreds and hundreds of papers. Conventions were equally weighted with organization, support, and focus.

      May 21, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
      • FLeducator

        Thanks for weighing in on this. I teach the art and craft of writing, among other subjects in fourth grade, and I sympathize with those reading and grading it. I'm a little disappointed the DOE lowered the score, although, I understand why they did it. Every writing teacher saddled with those scores under the VAM would have strike one and a half against them. That, and every schools' AYP in the state would be in jeopardy. While I appreciate higher writing standards, it's not realistic to ask a teacher to perfect 20 students' grammar, spelling, quality of details, organization, etc in SIX months and give students 45 minutes to prove it in narrative/expository style. Compound that by raising the achievement score from a 3 to a 4. Oh, and let's throw in a topic that half the kids in Florida can't even relate to, a camel ride! That has failure written all over it. These kids can't hardly imagine riding a bicycle! Really, what did you expect, FLDOE? In all your wisdom as educational leaders, none of you thought critically enough to IMAGINE this outcome. Maybe it's NOT worthless parents, union-protected teachers, or lazy students.

        May 21, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
  24. casper

    The Chinese are laughing at us !! Jobs to China,,,the wealthy corps get the untaxed profits off 20 cents/hour wages.. no one cares !
    The moron Bush and Republican wealthy creeps give us School testing instead of good learning programs... and TEACHERS TEACH the TEST !! as the Commies laugh at us..

    Next Cut taxes for the wealthy and cut education for the learning, cut medicare and social security for the elderly and give the money to tax cuts to the wealthy.... WHO INVEST THE MONEY AND DO NOT SPEND IT !! INVEST OVERSEAS@@

    So what you dumb clowns who vote republicans do not understand.. is that these wealthy republicans are USING YOU !!

    May 21, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • Kevin H

      The Chinese aren't laughing – they knew they had won long ago. When the US states started their highly political state testing programs – none of them based on any national or international norms – the spin began – and continues. State standardized testing started in the late 1950's and 1960's. Other than ITBS we have no numbers of what US education was like before that time – so we cannot compare. The US needs to create a national test that measures basic knowledge in all areas – mathematics, science, language arts, foreign / second language, technical knowledge, logic and reasoning, social science / geography, history, music, physical fitness – we need to test all these things from an international norm – based on what teachers actually teach in the classroom. The tests need to be created by teachers and professors who actually teach the subjects – not by consultants and politicians. We need to change the way we look at these things.

      May 21, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • ComSenseWiz

      With the ever increasing number of those going to non-public schools, that leaves too many illegal aliens, chimps and trailer trash in public schools with the expected decline in test scores.

      May 21, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
      • Cosmicsnoop

        You are just blowing out of your hole. Where is the evidence for that statement? I beg to differ until you can show me facts. I know of several kids who go to school with my son and they dropped out of private school to go to public school since hardly any kids go to the private schools around here and they didn't want to be friendless and seen as elitist.

        May 21, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
  25. steve

    i think the bombshell that hit the Atlanta school system is more of the norm than the exception. yet these worthless administrators were allowed to retire and collect their handsome pensions. hopefully they will all drop dead before they are able to spend one red cent of the pension money!

    May 21, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
  26. wesser

    No wonder America has gone from #1 in the world academically to #17 in just 25 years. The TEACHER UNIONS took control of education. The Teacher Unions are doing to our students what they did to American manufacturing. Under stand now why America has to give Visas to foreigners so industry can find qualified math and science employees.

    May 21, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • David Valentine

      That's what the politicians want you to believe.

      Home schooled children do better? Why. Lower teacher to pupil ratio, and fewer distractions (fewer kids)
      Put more teachers in the schools with smaller classes.

      Stop the full time mainstreaming of kids with disabilities. Provide appropriate educational environments.

      May 21, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
      • J

        Take it from a parent of a child with a disability, FL does NOT full time mainstream children. My son has autism, he went from at grade level inclusion Kindergarten in OH, where he was successful (and the students both children with disabilities and typical children were doing better than FL schools) to a self enclosed classroom in FL. He went from reading at Kindergarten level, writing his own name, and some counting and math to self injurious behavior (aka banging his head against a desk 14 times and causing temporary blindness) in less than three weeks at in his NON-mainstreamed classroom in FL. Please educate yourself before making such comments, it's been proven through research that mainstreaming benefits EVERY one– not just the disabled students.

        May 21, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • DanMarino

      They changed the testing this year and the teachers were too incompetent to deal with it. I wonder if the North Carolina teacher who has become a major Youtube and News sensation (though not on CNN) who bullied her students for asking a question about Obama is being protected by the unions, or just liberals in general.

      May 21, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
      • SMJ

        Are you serious? Incompetent to deal with it? Look, idiot, the rules were changed and we weren't told how to "teach" the new ones. Let's give you a masterpiece to paint without numbers. Or better yet, why don't you volunteer in your local public school and share your wisdom...because we're all so incompetent.

        May 21, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  27. steve

    the sad thing is the very few bright kids who want to learn, are held back by the dummies in the classroom. that's not fair to their development. maybe these disinterested, enabling, excuse all the time parents should be forced to "home school" and see if they can do anything with the mess they have helped create!

    May 21, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • Moncada

      Tell me about it. In high school almost no one brought their supplies, not because they could not afford it, but because of irresponsibility. Guess who they always bothered (distracted) to ask for a pencil? Me of course. To add to it, they always babbled on about skateboards, athletes, sports, etc., but not school work, in class

      May 21, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
      • Moncada

        Sorry, I forgot the period at the end of "class."

        May 21, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
  28. steve

    if more parents took as much interest in their kid's learning and development as they do in sports activities, social life etc. maybe our kids wouldn't be so flat out dumb!

    May 21, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
  29. Bryan

    First of all, I'm deaf. I had completed my hs from 1996-2000 in Tallahassee at Lincoln High School. My GPA is 3.7, had 26 credits from courses all 4 years. 3 times cross country MVP runner. But one HSCT it is old before FCAT. That blew my chance to get diploma. I failed lanague but passed math. Florida Dept of Education don't care that I'm deaf and my first language is American sign language and second language is English, I worked so hard to pass reading/language HSCT. I had failed 5 times on language reading and writing, the high score I had was 689, requird to pass is 700. Now I'm 31 years old and no diploma. I refuse to take GED because I know i deserve to get diploma from my high school that I had work hard all my 4 years but one HSCT blew all of my hard work. I believe Florida Dept of Education should have different standard for disable student. For disable student to pass test say 670 not 700. If it happened I would have my diploma already. Thanks Florida Dept of Education waste taxpayers money on me 4 years at high school for nothing and no diploma.

    May 21, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • steve

      your not a failure in my book
      you are a success, the system failed you
      but you will get your due
      hang in there!

      May 21, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • J

      Bryan– I feel for you. My son has autism. The teacher's predetermined that he was a failure having never met him. I'm so disgusted with the State of Florida. And lucky me, we are a military family, I can't just leave, we were stationed here, because the services were "better"...

      May 21, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • ERO

      So you are a quitter.

      May 21, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
  30. Brenda

    To all of you experts who have identified the many issues we currently have in Florida with education, go and become certified teachers and write back after three months. Teaching is difficult these days. Gone are the days when students obeyed their teachers, studied for tests and actually used penmenship. Few seem to want to be the best in some acdemic area. It's all about today's values. We must raise our values and expectations starting at home and the difference in success at school will be automatic.

    May 21, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
  31. FLeducator

    Everybody needs to carry the albatross of accountability, not just the students testing to pass and teachers testing to keep their jobs. Students need to prove they are paying attention and learning, and teachers need to prove they are teaching. By the same token, parents need to prove they are reinforcing education at home, our political leaders must prove they support and value education, and community stakeholders should not just be financial contributors, but should take their skills and knowledge to the school too.
    To the most intelligent poster asserting that unions need to be eliminated, your ignorance abounds. My LEA works very hard to protect our teaching time and demands that the decisions being made affecting students should include teacher input, since THEY are the ones spending seven hours a day with them. The time we spend assessing and reassessing is absurd! And before you whine that unions protect worthless teachers (and there ARE worthless teachers), unions protect due process and require administrators to know and follow contractual terms and statutory requirements. I'm disgusted that my children's education is a political chess match. Alas, the solution is impending, though. Common Core standards, EOCs, and RTTT/SB 736 will fix it all.

    May 21, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
  32. ModerateDemocratsthatnowvoteRepublican

    Well, well, well. The chicken has come home to roost! Hey Hillary, maybe instead of "It Takes a Village" your next book should be: "Hey responsible people, who brought life into the world, it's time for you to also be a good parent"....Nah! That might cost her too many votes in the Latin and Black community! My bad! 😉

    May 21, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • ComeOnMan9

      Casey Anthony, stay off the computer.

      May 21, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • Eric of Reseda

      Kids are being trained to be obedient consumers, and that's about it. This country needs dumb-downed, financially stressed individuals to fill the ranks of the Centurions. if everybody was highly educated in this country, you'd have a hard time keeping military ranks filled – smart people aren't as liklely to go fight and die in idiotic wars – and police ranks would suffer as well. Educated people question authority on substantive grounds, and our political leaders don't need an informed population snooping around. Anyone who thinks that the dumbing down of America isn't by design is naive. Rick Santorum railed against colleges as Left Wing madrasas. It's precisely that sort of thinking, i.e., discourage people from higher education, that has insinuated itself into our schools. Texas wants to cut Jefferson out textbooks, Kansas wants to dispel the Theory of Evolution, and the GOP wants to people to ignore Global Warming (as if 150 years of billions of cars and trucks and planes and millions of highly polluting factorie, massive destruction of forests, a couple thousand nuclear bomb tests, etc., has no consequences) so that we can keep mindlessly consuming and make the rich richer. It's all rather discgusting. History shows that authority has quite often done their best to keep citizens' stupid, their nose to the grindstone, and out of political affairs.

      May 21, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
      • Moncada

        I have also put some thought about the possibility that the "dumbing down" of our society is being done on purpose. I began to ask myself 'If all the population of the United States were highly educated; who would do the work of the military, ditch diggers, law enforcement and all work requiring physical labor?'

        May 21, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  33. Kay

    I am a veteran teacher of 25 plus years in Florida. There are many problems with our school system but the main ones are lack of parental support and unrealistic expectations. Parents expects students to do well but they require nothing of them at home. They don't make them do chores which helps them learn to follow directions. They allow children to do things in a sloppy manner so they think sloppy work at school is okay. They argue with their children so they think talking back to teachers is okay too. They allow all sorts of bad grammar and profanity so the kids think it's okay at school too. In short, gone are middle class and working class values. Children now expect incentives to do well in school. Now schools cannot afford the type of incentives students like so only the truly self motivated children are successful. I do have some fine students but my standards are much lower than they were 15 years ago. I am ashamed of many of the students we send to community colleges but we'have' to find a way to pass them so their self esteem will not be damaged. Too bad their high self esteem is worthless in the real world..

    May 21, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • steve

      let's see if their 'esteem' gets them a real job and status in the "real" world!

      May 21, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  34. eviltaxpayer

    We have to get rid of the unions in education- period.
    Privatize, vouchers.

    May 21, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • xambriel

      This would be a great idea ... except for the fact that states with the strongest teacher unions are also the states with the highest test scores. It turns out that when you respect teachers and give them the power to create strong classrooms, there are outstanding results.

      May 21, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Kay

      If you knew how arrogant some young administrators are, you would take that statement back. The reason so many schools are weaker today is because administrators want parents and students to be happy instead of being told the TRUTH. Teacher: Jason must do his homework daily. Parent: Jason wasn't feeling well after his game last night. Please give him another day to get his homework in. The next day in class Jason is lost because he did not do his homework but he hit a home run in the baseball game. Principal to Teacher: Please allow Jason to retake his quiz since he was too sick to do his homework. If the teacher says no, she is out. If she says okay, Jason learns to play the system but fails to learn Geometry! ! We need unions to protect us from administrators and unrealistic parents and allow us to do our jobs!.

      May 21, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • doug ronnenkamp

      Evil Unions? Obviously you have evil correct as you refer to yourself as being evil..... Teachers work hard – we have had budgets cut to ZERO – I supplies not just for myself but for my students – next year I will buy paper – what next will I have to buy simply to try and teach – and class sizes exploding....

      Oh yeah – all this because of the EVIL unions – next time you want to see evil – look in the mirror!!!

      May 21, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
      • DoubleJay

        " I supplies not just for myself but for my students." With grammar like that, how can any blame be put on the teachers? (In case you can't grasp it, that was sarcasm) How are you allowed to have a job in education when even you, a teacher can't form correct sentences. Ultimately as usual everyone wants to oversimplify the problem. It is a combination of the change is social values and the culture combined with at least some degradation of the pool of teachers we have because we don't pay them equivalent to the value of the job/service they provide. And it is exacerbated by fact that most families are unsustainable on a single income so both parents are having to work and don't have the time/energy to focus as much as they should on their kids doing homework and chores because they are so worn out.

        May 21, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • Chuck Jasper, Ga.

      You need to get parents to be involved. It isn't the teachers. Teachers present the educational material to every student in the classroom. If they were not doing their job, half of them would not be able to pass this "standardized test". They would all fail. Not all students are geared to Academics, some are better suited to physical activity while learning. Some are better geared to hands-on training than they are to "book learning". The greatest resource we have in this country is our children. But as a nation what do we do? We keep taking funding from education. Education should be the last thing that has it's funding reduced. We need to tailor our education to the skills needed as well as the basics.

      May 21, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  35. Joe


    May 21, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • doug ronnenkamp

      Want to see a failure? Look in the mirror......

      May 21, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • SMJ

      The only failure I see....would be your parents.

      May 21, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
  36. jdoe

    American education has always been crappy, and these tests just show it. The grade level is at least one or two grades below what is taught in other countries. Culture is another factor. Smart, bright kids are bullied while slackers and losers are heroes. Kids are literally proud that they're idiots and don't do their homework. This is supported in movies, music, and other popular media.

    On the other hand, America thrives by attracting foreign students to come and study here, and many do stay. Seems like engineering and science schools are at least foreigners or minorities. America also brings in a lot of skilled people from abroad. So all hope is not lost yet.

    May 21, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • jdoe

      Correction: ... at least HALF foreigners...

      May 21, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  37. J

    I live in FL and this is totally predictable. My daughter and son are 2 years age difference, my daughter is gifted, my son is not. FL is totally over-reliant on technology and the idea that state-of-the-art classrooms actually educate children. My daughter had an iPad lab, smart board, accelerated reading program, etc. My son was placed in a self contained classroom 30 minutes from the school he was zoned for, with 7 other SPED students in a converted band room, and they rewrote a successful IEP to take away services he was getting in another state (military family– both states we lived in signed the Military Child Interstate Compact– meaning that FL legally was obligated to follow OH's IEP). I'm not alone, I have 10 + families with similar stories from the same school district. Teachers are over-relying on teaching the test, over-relying on technology, and then when the system fails they are quick to blame the parents. The entire school system in FL needs an overhaul. Starting with the FCAT and ESE (special education programs).

    May 21, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • FLeducator

      I surely can't argue with overhauling the ESE program! Since the advent of RtI (Response to Intervention), we've seen the support for ESE take a nosedive! With this, there are more children "falling through the cracks" than ever before! =( Continue to advocate for your child's education.

      May 21, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
      • J

        Thanks... Not only this, but blatant lawbreaking that's going on in FL is ridiculous. I got disgruntled and my husband was TDY, so instead of fighting the system, we pulled my son and took the McKay scholarship. It's really sad. Many parents don't want a diagnosis in our district, because their children will be taken out of good schools and placed in horrible schools.

        May 21, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
  38. Abby

    Is it not obvious to everyone reading this that something drastically different was done this year–those big swings are not due to worsening writing skills. The scores from year-to-year are not comparable because they were graded completely differently. And the State only communicated the change in the grading around Christmas, not giving the teachers enough time to change their strategy prior to the FCAT. Problem is that teachers have to teach with the sole focus of kids passing a standardized test and that is a crying shame.

    May 21, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  39. juan de palanyag

    A state population that once voted for Jeff Bush as governor can be a good enough indicator what thinking cap an average man in Florida has. It is only fair to expect their kids to perform just a little better.

    I am sorry. Just could not help myself. I was just kidding.

    Seriously, Florida is not alone with this kind of problem partly because of the students multiple ethnic backgrounds.
    It might be helpful to find out what California did to this similar problem.

    I am concerned because I got some half dozen nieces and nephews in the Miami-Dade area.

    May 21, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Careless

      "It might be helpful to find out what California did to this similar problem."

      It went and got some of the worst results of any state in the country (bottom 3). No one has any real solutions for this problem

      May 21, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
      • Careless

        I should have said "no one has any effective solutions."

        May 21, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • mntest347

      You "have" nieces and nephews...

      May 21, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  40. Keith

    The system is completly incapable of teaching. A easy quyestion would be why did education work 40 years ago? What is different today.

    It is not parents, it is not incapable Teachers, it is not stupid children, so fix everything else and things will get better.

    May 21, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Careless

      "It is not parents, it is not incapable Teachers, it is not stupid children"

      It's not, it's not, and it's not?

      May 21, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
      • Keith

        It is the pedagogy and what passes for "education" education in Universities. If you have a system that is wrong you can’t get good results.

        May 21, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • Careless

      Keith, if you were right, American students wouldn't do as well or better than their ethnic counterparts in other countries on the international tests.

      May 21, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
      • Keith

        But they don't, We are behind in every area. Just in case I do not understand your point maybe you could add more information.

        My point is that America is graduating fewer engineers, scientist and doctors than other western countries by percentage. Our students arrive at University poorly trained with many needing remedial classes just to begin.

        May 21, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
  41. ann

    25 Valedictorians in one school pretty much says it all. Low standards. Florida is the red-headed step child state.

    May 21, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Polar Bear

      Everyone gets a trophy because we're all winners! Laughable. When I was a kid, we'd take the losers out back and beat 'em up. Ah, the good ole days. I was one of them. Now I'm successful. Go figure.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • ComeOnMan9

      Thank God you feel that way, I wont have to fight you for a piece of sand down here in the sunny state. Education has always been a problem for the whole nation. I don't know the answer but I think I got a few clues. I expect a certain behavior and mastery of social skills of any young person in my life. I buy the little fools books. I tell them I want them to go to school and do well. They still flunk out. I think maybe our nation will have to change the culture because it appears it is in style to be stupid in this country. Bless the teachers, you are living saints.

      May 21, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • Hugo

      How do you know that 25 valedictorians means low standards? Maybe we have 25 kids who will end up with advanced college degrees. Could be even more.

      The concept in the valedictorian story is that these kids were all taking college level classes in H.S. Unless that was false, they look pretty smart already if they are all taking college classes.

      Sometimes is skewed because of the nature of the population. How many people in the PhD program for Physics at MIT have an IQ of 80? I'm confident the number is 0. But we do have people with an IQ of 80 in the general population. If we gave 25 of those PhD students a high school Algebra II test, I'm confident they all get A's.

      Source of the sample matters.

      May 21, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
  42. Polar Bear

    Could it be? The value of education in certain subcultures is non-existent and it brings down the overall scores. Take out the Hispanics and the blacks, and then what do we have? I know, I know, we aren't "allowed" to expose the real truth. Thus, things stay the same or get worse.

    May 21, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  43. Polar Bear

    Geez! In Georgia, we're 49th in the country and had to cheat to get there! Hello 48th! Movin' up!

    May 21, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  44. Thegreatripoff

    Of course this is going to happen. We have to make sure that the generation(s) that bankrupted this country have a nice cozy retirement.

    May 21, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Polar Bear

      Yup. I could retire now but I'm going to hold on a little while longer so you have nothing. I want to retire with a 911 Turbo, not the 911 Coupe I have now. While you're sitting there whining and doing nothing, I'm going to "take" everything I can. So have a beer, have a joint, join a movement and people like me will zoom right past you.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  45. Steve

    When all else fails...lower your standards.

    May 21, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Polar Bear


      May 21, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  46. tempemom

    Standardized state writing evaluation questions should be as bland as possible. Persuasive essays should not be included. Compare and contrast, at the most, and the subjects or objects being compared should not be intimidating. The purpose is to evaluate writing conventions, not critical thinking, and not forcing an opinion out of a student unwilling to give one.

    May 21, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  47. erin

    Texting/short cuts is a large culprit I think. It is void of proper writing and grammar skills.

    May 21, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • ollie

      Nice try. My kids know the difference between txt language and written language. Standardized tests for writing is just not as simple as it sounds. If you score on conventions (spelling, grammar, etc) then you are looking for errors that can be attributed to the 'rushed' atmosphere. 45 minutes to compose a multi-paragraph essay that is conventionally correct AND shows evidence of critical thinking? GOOD Writing takes time and thought. What you get from kids in this set up is a brainstormed first draft at best. So we grade their 1st shot and call that a measure of their skill.
      See the problem? It isn't texting.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
      • Dawn Brainard

        and you, dear person are an enabler.

        May 21, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
      • cacol

        Obviously your kids failed. You are a bad parent.

        May 21, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  48. liz

    My daughter is a Teacher and damn good at her job but these kids especially in this downward economy come to used,abused,hungry and just plain stressed non of which the test or Teacher evaluations take into consideration. Want some advice get rid of the test start teaching some reading,writing and arithmetic.

    May 21, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Kathryn Harlan

      Totally agree and might I add stop making teachers teach to pass the test!!! A fake passing grade on the FCAT may look good for the County, but it will do nothing for the student!! Teachers should be free to spend their education and time teaching students the 3 Rs and i thank your daughter for her efforts in this overly beaurocratic mess!!

      May 21, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
      • billyjim

        In addition to the 3 R's I would add that the school systems have to retain the right to hold a child back with no interference from the parents. If a child can't read by somewhere around the third grade, what is the point of passing them on until they master this basic skill? We have given social promotions for years and that policy clearly is not working.

        May 21, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Patiat

      It might not be unwise to ask your daughter for some help with writing.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  49. WhatCommonSense?

    This is a simple matter of one part of the department not knowing what the other part of the department is doing. The elementary schools no longer force teachers to teach spelling as a part of their curriculum. I have a 5th grade son, and all throughout his years in elementary school, I have debated the importance of spelling with his teachers. They and the establishment, a.k.a. the school board, believe that, through reading, the children will teach themselves to spell properly. Now they are suddenly using spelling as one of the parameters to grade the students essays? How sadistic is that?

    May 21, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • ollie

      No longer FORCE teachers to teach spelling? Whole curriculums have been designed that put spelling WAY down the priority list. My kids NEED it, but I have to make sure they are ready to test in Reading, and Writing. And before you get all excited about how spelling is part of writing, I have to TEACH WRITING – how to put words together, how to create organized paragraphs and take those paragraphs and craft a complete essay. that is how they pass. Simple poor spelling does not hurt them as much as the inability to communicate ideas and form cohesive essays.
      If my students don't score well, I could be out of a job, so everyone who thinks that these standardized tests REALLY work – all this push has done is create a system that MUST increase the scores, and that is NOT about a whole or complete education.
      We teach the kids what they need to pass the test because THAT is what has become the goal – AND the club by which we are beaten.
      It has absolutely NOTHING to do with common sense.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
      • SMJ

        Also, no one has addressed the fact that the scoring of these tests is highly subjective. Two individuals read them and give them a score. We have no idea who they are. What is their educational background? How much training did they receive? Are they truly competent to score an essay? Our county provides us with maps that we are required to follow throughout the year. Sadly, grammar and spelling have been sacrificed for reading and mathematics.

        May 21, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
  50. KethanMO

    The public educational system in the United States – every state, not just Florida – is a joke. I don't pretend to understand what has happened to it – I'm guessing a combination of government intervention and lack of parental discipline. But in the end, I'm just glad that I don't currently have school age children. If I did, they would either be sent to a private school or home schooled. It's the only way to be certain that your kids are learning what they need to know to succeed as adults.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Mark W. Ellis

      Sorry Ethan, you can not equate all states with FLA. Many are offering curriculums that exceed those of their parents especially in math and science while perhaps slightly less in grammer, geography and world history.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  51. lefty avenger

    Kids don't have Intellectual Role models to look up to in america. Everything on TV, music and popular culture is based upon running around in the street and knocking people in the head. How can kids develop mentally, when everything is lock and load and smack you in the head in america. Whomever runs america hates intelligence and intellectualism. The forces that be know that they will have a bunch of mental slave dumb dumbs to manipulate any way that they see fit.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • KethanMO

      But the parents are the ones who allow their children to be exposed to TV, music and pop culture. If they truly cared about their children, they would limit this exposure and teach their kids the right values. And it doesn't matter how hard you work, or how many hours, or how tired you are when you get home – if you have kids, you need to spend the time with them to do it right. Otherwise, you're just contributing to the problem.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Kathryn Harlan

      Welcome to the state of dummy down education.. I paid dearly to send my kids to private school iin Florida so they could get what NJ offers its kids in public school..so does it surprise my the Miami Dade County Public School Speririntend led ann entire school OUT OF CLASS IN PROTEST OVER A FEDERDAL COURTS DEPORTATION ORDER???? NO!! That is what schools have become in Miami Dade County... poor excuses for education not by its teachers, but by its administrators who seek higher offices of the backs of the students and teachers!! Any one with any concern for their kids education would pull them out of the public system in Florida as soon as they can....I did and I am so glad!!

      May 21, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
      • steve

        i wouldn't send my dog to any public school in florida
        i care too much for my dog!

        May 21, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
  52. eviltaxpayer

    This is why everytime the politicians say new taxes are "for the children" or its for "education", you know your being lied too.
    Goverment education is useless, the unions care more about pensions than the children period.
    Private education and home schooling are superior because theres no political agenda.
    The unions are a parasite on the taxpayer.Get rid of goverment education, vouchers are the answer.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • ts

      Unlike the parasitic private corporations I suppose.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • ollie

      Oh by all means – go to vouchers – go to charter schools . . . because letting money drive the system has been so effective so far. Be oh so careful what you wish for.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  53. Your PalBob

    This country is going down the toilet like an obese turd.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  54. Tom in Orlando

    Florida's schools really suck! I have taught in four universities and it is sad that the majority of my students should never have graduated from HS. They are totally unprepared, can't spell or punctuate a sentence. Thanks, to the Tea-publicans and our lousy governor the situation can only get worse. Last year, they voted to cut education by One billion dollars and instead, provide incentives to corporations in the form of lower taxes. If you are considering moving your children to Florida, rethink your decision. Your kids deserve better.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Teri

      I had kids in my college courses that were so ignorant they couldn't average their grade and that was a straight average, not where each item carried a different weight. They had no clue. All public school kids, too. How they made it out of highschool and into college is a mystery.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Jake

      As an educator it is your duty to be educated about policies that effect the education system, which you are clearly not. Race to the Top, Obama's baby is what is requiring these changes that the teachers and students have not had time to prepare for. Public schools can afford to lose their funding for some of their sports and hire teachers in an effort to reduce class size. Many head high school football coaches in Florida make $80,000 plus! Obama's RTTT requires students to take tests in every subject in order to earn credit. In the tenth grade year alone many Florida kids will sit for 20 + test administrations because RTTT requires multiple levels of testing. Take history for example, when a kid is required to learn 300 years of history in 9 months, there is no depth of understanding present and then all the kids fail, so the state adjusts the scores. This is the craziness that is part of RTTT. You ought to research it. It is some awful stuff. Wait until Obama's next term, then college instructor pay will be determined by their students' ability to pass an exam. Do you start teaching the test in hopes to stay employed or do you do what's right? Those kids have been taught tests, not skills and it should stop. As long as we have an uneducated public who casts aspersions rather than research to find the root of the problem, we will still have this. Tom, you need to do your homework. If you care about the students you teach, you would be an advocate, not a critic.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Gildo

      Florida had 4 schools in the top 15 in the us news best schools list. More than any other state. Texas had 3, New York had one, and California had zero, none, zilch...

      May 21, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
      • steve

        link to that propaganda?

        May 21, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • rick

      "thanks" comma? "last year" comma? "instead" comma? did you learn your grammar in Florida schools?

      May 21, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
      • mntest347

        Rick – hope you're not teaching writing. First word in a sentence begins with an upper-case letter.

        May 21, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • rick

      tom in orlando: not teaching grammar in the 4 universities, i hope. "thanks" comma? "last year" comma? "instead" comma? did you learn your grammar in Florida schools?

      May 21, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Timbly

      That's proper punctuation?!

      May 21, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  55. Puckles

    Americans are such lazy sloths!

    May 21, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  56. Puckles


    May 21, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  57. Sharon Ayers-Ives

    Watching the decline of our educational system over the decades has been disturbing for me – this is occurring not only in K-12, but in colleges and universities as well. Every state is different, but one thing in common is the concentration on these tests in order to be eligible for federal funding – ridiculous, to say the least. More time is spent on preparing the students with mock tests and so forth than on the actual instruction of subjects.
    Parents can and have complained, but it all falls on deaf ears. The few exceptions have been with the attempts to convert our nation to the metric system or with the "Chicago Math" replacing the standard instuctional math.
    There is a need to backtrack to a time when our nation's educational system florished. And then stick with what works, Anything experimental should be considered exracurricular, not mandatory.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  58. Dorkus

    USA! #1! USA! #1! USA! #1!

    Ha-ha, stupid flag-wavers! Don't you get it? Just being America isn't enough any more!

    May 21, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Polar Bear

      Well, Dorkus, you are free to find another country!

      May 21, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • peridot2

      They're behind the times with that, too.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  59. Wendy

    How many languages is the FCAT given in? Take a look at the number of kids in Florida schools that cannot read or write in English...then ask those questions again.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Scott Allen

      Ah Wendy, you took my thunder. Filter out the kids who don't attend, can't speak English, are from broken homes and use drugs, and you might find the scores are actually pretty good. If you are going to use percentages, to look at the underlying demographics and then see if there are patterns and contributing factors. What you are doing is laughable. If I just say that 20% of Americans die every year, you could panic "20%, 1 in 5 Americans die every year! Oh My!" Besides being a number I pulled out of the air, it's meaningless. If I said 1 in 5 children under the age of 10 die every year from starvation, that would ghastly for America. For some countries in Africa, that would be an improvement. Learn how to use facts for goodness sake.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  60. Alex

    The school system sucks. They have expectations that are unreasonable. How do they expect them to do well when they are so clearly struggling? Apparently the "solution" is to just make the standardized tests even harder. That makes a lot of sense -_- Students need to go at their own pace, because the school system is clearly not going at the student's pace.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Wendy

      The point you missed from the article is that this years test put a greater emphasis on SPELLING and GRAMMAR......for the older grades, there was a content score. So are you saying that we are being to hard on these kids because they do not know how to use a comma or a period? or SPELL!

      May 21, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
      • Kimism

        We live in FL and received word from the school system this that the FCAT standards were going to be much harder this year and moving forward. My son is in 2nd grade so he still has a year before he needs to take the test, however even in his 2nd grade class, his assigmentsmuch harder than I would expect for a 2nd grader...and that's saying a lot since we just moved her from VT which has one of the best school systems in the country. It isn't a matter of schools in FL not teaching the children (because the good ones here still do), it's a matter of standardized testing being the only way the state measures progress and designates funding. The other real issue is a lack of programs to support ESOL students or those with disabilities. What the kids need is to be taught at their level instead of spending a whole year preparing for a stupid test.

        May 21, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
      • Jake

        Some of these kids were not taught grammar when in elementary school because of the whole language approach. Additionally, in a world of spell and grammar checkers, is anyone shocked?

        May 21, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  61. Bill

    What do you expect from a republican state full of old people?

    May 21, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Jake

      I would expect them to refuse the Race to the Top money offered by the Obama administration which is what got these kids into this spot. Republicans don't have any strength of conviction when it comes to money. There is not a bit of difference between the two parties which is why America is in trouble.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
      • peridot2

        I must respectfully disagree with you, Jake. My family goes back in Florida more than 250 years. We're Minorcans. This is a result of No Child Left Behind, an unfunded program that did nothing but teach to a test. No learning went on here in Florida for nearly a decade.

        May 21, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  62. M@!

    Republican definition of education is, 'Life's hard lesson is: learn to fend for yourself, kid.'

    May 21, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  63. Michael

    Young Republicans.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  64. double b

    population swings due to lack of work and a governer who thinks the answer to everything is cut, cut, cut the middle class and boost boost boost right wing business is the reason.
    teachers were forced to take furlogh days, endure wage freezes etc.
    not a way to attract the best teachers...the smart ones left for other states.
    our governer is pretty rotten

    May 21, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • batteryinme

      Now I see where Wisconsin is heading.....we have the same ideology running (ruining) this State too.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
      • Jake

        I did not know Wisconsin was a Race to the Top state. It is the Obama grant that got Florida here.

        May 21, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • peridot2

      ...and they have been since we've become a Republican state.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  65. old teacher

    Taught in FL for years, teachers were told NOT to teach spelling and punctuation, and why don't they anyway you may ask? Because if a child did poorly on a test because of spelling or punctuation, the teacher would be scolded, told to delete the grade, parents and child would leave conference smirking and not a single child would ever try and get their spelling right going forward. Allowing teachers a say in the process would be a nice place to start but some things will never change.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Jonquil

      Cultural respect is sorely needed for "The Teaching Profession" in America. Yes, there are bad teachers, but I'm not talking about the ones who try to teach challenging groups - I mean the ones who abuse their power, single-out kids and bully them.

      But kids needs to be taught to respect teachers. When parents berate and rip into teachers (or cashiers, DMV personnel, bankers) in front of their kids, children learn from that. Parents need to keep-up their end of the bargain and that means teaching impulse control, self-discipline for worthy pursuits and devoting time to read with their children. Education isn't some app you buy, with the expectation that you never have to put something in after purchase. It's a social dialogue.

      It will take time for Florida's education system to turn-around. But we need to start thinking of the long-term, have patience and stop expecting immediate gratification for everything. Education doesn't work like that. Focusing purely on super-tests, does. It's all about winning a game, not owning information.

      May 21, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  66. boarddog

    How many states have to take a "comprehensive assessment test" like Florida? The student can have an A/B average throughout the year and be held back because of this test. It's very stressful on the students and ridicules IMHO.

    May 21, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • cyberhackster

      Yeh, really stressful – They might have to have learned something

      May 21, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
      • kamibmom2three

        Ok.. here we go... I graduated from a Florida high school. I had to take the FCAT. I did very well. i'm a good test taker.. but guess what? A LOT of my friends who were A/B students did poorly. As someone who took the FCAT I can tell you, it is set up in a way that makes passing difficult. it's more difficult to enter your answers correctly than to actually answer the questions. We spent most of the time learning how to enter the answers for the questions – much more than actually learning. it sucks. Now as a mom, i know that it's MY job to educate my kids – the school can't/won't do it.

        May 21, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Sickofitall

      The problem is that too many kids have A/B averages due to grade inflation, not intelligence.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Teri

      Not really. Because a popular student may get grades they don't deserve and a student that is disliked by a teacher may be given bad grades for no reason. The only way to really assess students is to give them a test that is not graded on anything but that particular test. I had my daughter in a private school that was affiliated with the Baptist Church. We are Methodist, but it is the only private school in the county, so that's where we went. She consistently scored the highest in her class when it came to the standardized testing, but when it came to grades in general, the kids of the pastor at the church that contributed a lot of money to the school always won the awards. Teachers can be very biased and that can be reflected in their report card grades and GPA, but it is not in standardized tests – those are based on the child's ability and nothing else.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Jake

      Very Stressful and ridiculous. There are several states that passed laws under No Child Left Behind, the Bush project and Florida has passed more to receive Race to the Top money from Obama. The bad thing about RTTT is that it requires tests in every are-not just reading, math and writing. Tenth graders can sit for as many as 20 test administrations in the year because practice tests are required too. If government were removed from school, then things would go back to educators running the education system, and since they are the professionals that understand learning, the kids would be in better shape. This all started with a Nation at Risk, the Dept. of Ed.. report that convinced Reagan not to dismantle the Dept. of Ed. His biggest mistake.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
      • Angel

        I agree. Teachers are biased. I grew up in New Jersey and saw lots of biased behavior [gender, race, religion] on the part of teachers. 1970-1984 The excuse that minority classes are all unmanageable is lame at best. Mine weren't and we still didn't have teachers certified to teach the hard sciences. If I had a child I would be educating them in Canada.

        May 22, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  67. Barrington Legend

    We can skip all the conjecture and explain this EPIC FAIL quite easily:

    1. Lazy @$$ parents that dont spend any time helping their kids with their school work (because they think thats only the teachers job).
    2. Teachers spend more time trying to keep order in their classroom than actually teaching. Because of this, very few teachers actually care about their quality of teaching.....they can barely get a word out.
    3. All those billions of dollars that you THOUGHT was going to the improvement of the schools and quality of eduaction doesnt actually make it to the school or to the kids. Just ask your superintendent for a printout of where that money actually goes...guaranteed you wont get a straight answer (if you get an answer at all).

    May 21, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • double b

      maybe the fact that our wonderful governer scott has cut funding to schools has something to do with it?

      May 21, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Crystal_Clear

      Let's not forget the huge language barrier especially in South Florida! They have taken English as a language out of the Miami-Dade schools which is ridiculous with all the hispanics and Haitians there. The teachers are only permitted to teach what is on the test the entire year. I worked at a local college and have witnessed kids in tears because they got an F on a paper. Why? They wrote the paper like a text message! Apparently this was ok in high school. Not so much in college and the real world. It's very sad especially when the kid does not understand why they cannot write a paper like that. Setting them up for complete failure in the real world.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  68. Orange Juice

    I was a teacher for one year in Florida. I can say without a doubt that parents and spineless administrators are the major reasons for this disaster. The parents are either too overly involved and preasuring teachers for artifically high grades or the parents are never there and too high on crack to help their child. The administrators are always afraid of parents compalining and would rather throw teachers under the bus than defend them.

    May 21, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Barrington Legend

      Well......You shouldnt feel too bad....its the same story where I am from as well.

      May 21, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  69. Consider

    You mean it's not just my state that's in trouble?

    May 21, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • Consider

      A while back the News Journal ran an article that said there were about 750 teaching positions in a county in Virginia, and there were about 2,000 applicants. The superintendent decided to reduce the number of applicants, by having each prospective teacher take a basic high school proficiency exam.

      The results: You guessed it—a large percentage of the prospective teachers failed the test.

      Houston Control, We have a problem!

      May 21, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  70. michael

    Just listen to the in class youtube audio about respecting BO and decide for yourself. I understand that the teacher favored BO and that is fine, but she is not much of a teacher. What a horrible waste of 10 minutes in the classroom. My kids have experienced this lousy quality of education also. BTW, note the foul language in the classroom discussion!

    May 21, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  71. slowson

    I live in Jax FL. Our school board is a national model on how not to run a school system. There are some excellent teachers but between the lack of parental care and the administration, it is a failure.
    Our two children attended private school and while expensive, it was worth it

    May 21, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  72. Barrington Legend

    Well....thats what happens when your parents/teachers spend more time on south beach than they do preparing their lesson plans.

    May 21, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • cyberhackster

      And a some union rally - Teachers have become morons

      May 21, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  73. Ron

    What I don't get is that Florida has received some $20B since 1988 for education purposes through the lottery, and the past 9 years $1B has been given a year. How is Florida ranked 2nd or 3rd to last in education? The school system in Florida is pathetic and very very sad! All they talk about is how education is important, but instead of really fixing the problem, what do they do? They lower the benchmark score to 3 from 4. So that many more will be considered at grade level! Great, how do we improve education, let's lower the benchmark scores to fit the students? I went to school in NY and I was assigned to one school one, JR High, 1 High School! There was no rezoning every 6 months. Also, I have friends that live 5+ miles to the school their kids are assigned to, my child is less than a 1/2 mile to her school and my daughter is zoned for another school, The only reason she is going to the other school is she was granted permission based off gifted status! OTherwise, she would be going to school with all the kids that bomb the FCAT! Nobody wants to go to this school cause it is full of illegal immigrants, that dont speak english and hold up the learning of american kids in the class and school! Here's another issue I have, these illegals, don't pay taxes, I pay taxes, and my kids has to be tested gifted to go to another school! The School she is zoned which was an "A" rated school is full of illegals that keep failing the FCAT! Tell me why that illegal kid who's parents pay no taxes, works under the table and send money back home has more rights than a tax paying citizen? IF this isn't a reason to kick the donkey out of office!!!!

    May 21, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • D987654321

      Can you say...corruption? 🙂

      May 21, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
      • Daisy

        How does corruption make the FCAT scores drop? And who would benefit from it?

        May 21, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • soulcatcher

      First kick the angry big fat elephant out of the room. Let teachers do their job.

      May 21, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
      • Bob

        And yet democrats are dead set against school vouchers. Pathetic. You liberals should be ashamed. How is that socialized school system working for ya l i b t a r d?

        May 21, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • JB

      While it is true that the educational system in Florida is in need of improvement, it is also true that the same could be said for the majority of public schools in the US. There are a great many reasons for the deterioration of the educational system in this country and certainly educating students from a wide range of cultural and linguistic backgrounds is a challange. Arguably the largest issue however remains the lack of participation of parents in providing a home environment conducive to learning. In reading your reply I am struck by your own inability to properly construct sentences and convey a logical argument. I'm not sure you would get a 4 out of 6 on your reply. If you want your children to be well educated start by providing them with a home environment that fosters learning.

      May 21, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • boarddog

      If you were to actually comprehend the article they changed the test this year in the reading category and obtained these results. They then realized that this was a mistake and lowered the bench mark in the reading portion to avoid causing students to fail. How many states have to take a "comprehensive assessment test" like Florida? The student can have an A/B average throughout the year and be held back because of this test. It's very stressful on the students and ridicules IMHO.

      May 21, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • steve

      go down to Miami and see what is being taught!
      poverty, drugs, total disrespect for their fellow human being
      and most of them will fall upon the taxpayers to provide welfare to their stupid carcasses in the very near future.
      they need to clean that nest out down there. i have to admit i will never visit there again as the people are rude, uneducated and think they are something cause they live in a sewer called Miami! wish they could just let the whole state pull away from America. let them fend for themselves as a separate country. see how much welfare they get then!

      May 21, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  74. lisa

    The teachers here in FL are more worried about preparing students for the FCAT than preparing them for life. The test was a good idea in theory (why wouldn't you want to actually evaluate learning before handing out diplomas) but tying it to incentives guaranteed it to failure.

    May 21, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  75. Truth For Real

    Getting rid of these tests will only further prove that the Florida education system is pathetic. If it comes down to background, then it may be beneficial to students and teachers to begin segregating kids with immigrants for parents into state-sponsored ESL schools. If you're parents can't prove citizenship, then the kids are forced by the state to go to the ESL school.

    I suggest this because it's unfair to blame American teachers because some kids parents are from Cuba, don't speak English, and can't help their child with his/her homework. American kids have such an advantage due to their parents being citizens and understanding the material. I know there are dumb American kids too, but I'm guessing the majority of these low scores are from kids with immigrant parents that can't help in the learning process and never had to do any of this kind of school work.

    May 21, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • Leila

      Sadly, every state in the union has to abide by the holy grail of standardized testing. Our principal makes us teach to the test. Ask me if my students have learned anything worthy? The answer is NO. I have had to cut out several components of my literary units throughout the year. The kids hate it and so do we. A multiple choice test should not be the ONLY measure of a student's knowledge.

      May 21, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • PG

      The results are scary but if you dont fix it now they wont be able to fix our economy or jobs growing up. I was tired of being pressured in FL universities to give grades to students who should have failed and I realized there was too little time to correct the problem in Universities. Recently I was stunned at the quality of 4th graders writing skills in a non-English speaking country and was appalled to see the skills of my child in FL at the begining of the year. My child spent an average of 45-90 minutes a day writing at home in the last six months and made the cut. I am refering to top tier schools where the other problems cited by other readers are not an issue. The video games, TV time have dumbed our kids, reduced their concentration power and ability to think calmy. There is a lot more work to be done by all concerned, particularly parents.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
      • steve

        parents are the main problem!
        they just don't care and are too busy with their own social lives!

        May 21, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
      • FreeReally

        The lack of basic english skills can also be attributed to texting vs. writing. The Post office is complaining of no mail, at most even adults send preprinted cards now instead of informative letters. People used to complain of the long yearly letter received in the Christmas card, but at least it was a written letter, where had or typed. Now you get a text with non abbreviated words. Even spoken language is becoming abbreviated with acronyms from texting instead of speaking whole words and face to face communication is becoming a thing of the past.

        May 21, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  76. Mireille

    I think there is something seriously wrong with teaching to the test. I moved from Canada to Florida when I was 10. I found that the teaching method was completely different. I don't even remember taking any province-wide test during my time in the Quebec elementary school system. I think if you just teach material that is pertinent, then when kids take the standardized test, they will pass. If you teach kids good reading skills and do activities checking whether they comprehend what they read, they will do fine. For the writing exam, emphasis on vocabulary, proper sentence structure and grammar will ensure that they get a 4 or higher. However, those things are absent from the curriculum. Elementary school is the most important time for a child to learn since it provides the foundation for middle/high school. I am glad I went to a Canadian elementary school because the Florida school system is broken. Teachers only care about how their pupils' scores will make them look. Plus parents nowadays are just not involved. Parents are there to compliment the work done by teachers in school.

    May 21, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  77. Wondering

    I wonder how many adults in the ENTIRE country would be able to pass their own states' test. I believe that the numbers of failure would be higher than most people think.

    May 21, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • chefdugan

      They just got the headline wrong. It should read 50% of Florida's TEACHERS fail to teach well enough so the test could be passed. Teachers in America are becoming more and more embarassing. They are a disgrace to what used to be a professioin and now they are just union hacks.

      May 21, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Leila

      Insofar as the tests are pretty darn fundamental, I am more than certain teachers can pass them. Have you ever seen one of the state tests?

      May 21, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  78. ChrisP

    Perhaps we should value the effect teachers have on educating our state's children and start paying them a reasonable wage and providing basic health insurance coverage for their families. Their wages have not increased in the last 5 years while the cost of participating in health coverage has gone up significantly.

    May 21, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
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