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. jesse

    Probably because it has so many colored people. That's the most obvious answer, but all the romanticists out there will condemn the truth.

    May 21, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • TheMovieFan

      Probably not.

      Most likely it is because schools in Florida are underfunded. I will be visiting Florida next month since it is a great place to visit. I would not want to live there while I have children in school. I live in a state that is near the top in academic performance. Of course, it is too liberal.

      May 21, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  2. Mark

    Florida is notoriously terrible regarding the pay for teachers. Good teachers won't go there. Talk to Bush. His brother attempted to ruin education nationally with NCLB.

    May 21, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • JBcritters

      So proud! State of Florida makes national news for failing test scores, and number of people who appear on
      America's Dumbest Criminals.

      May 21, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • peridot2

      Attempted? Succeeded.

      May 21, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  3. Dean

    Like the Dept of Energy, the Dept of Education was started by Carter and is a failure like the Dept of Energy is.
    Other than specialized subjects, a high school graduate of 1961 has a better education than a college graduate of today.
    Back then the government did not mandate any standards and people were taught to gain knowledge and not taught to pass a government test.
    Doubt what I am saying then visit your local McDonalds when the electricity is off and watch the cashier try and figure out how much change to give you back.

    May 21, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  4. pjincvl

    Sounds like some teachers cheated on the tests last year.

    May 21, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Sounds like you need some reading skills. As the article notes, they changed the scoring method, making it much stricter and raised the passing score. Both of which would cause a large reduction in passing grades.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
      • TheMovieFan

        Mark, you can thank those who underfund schools.

        May 21, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • KTrae

      As a fourth grade teacher, I take great offense to your comment that some teachers "cheated". I'm not even going to dignify your response with a denial considering your statement is so absurd and offensive. Have you ever even considered that there is so much information that is not reported that might have contributed to the extreme drop in scores? I assure you there is. I am so fortunate, as well as elated, that my students did quite well on the exam. However, my heart breaks for those students and teachers who tried so hard but were fighting so many odds against them that the media and public are not aware of. Continually these children and teachers keep hearing of how they "failed". But they didn't. If you were a teacher you would understand. Therefore, until you walk in my shoes or their shoes, don't judge.

      May 21, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  5. Fr33th1nk3r

    The movie IDIOCRACY by Mike Judge, is definitely coming true.....

    May 21, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • WS

      We are definitely well on our way to Idiocracy, and it's thanks entirely to the victim-centric, feel-good, "everyone's-a-winner" liberal ideology that the Left in this country have been promoting since the 1960's.

      May 21, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  6. Fr33th1nk3r

    I am wondering what the demographics look like among the students tested? If the test was given in Spanish, the literacy rate is probably much higher.

    May 21, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  7. Angel

    My daughter is a dyslexic in Florida and has been given NO help through the state. Oh yay – she gets extra time on her test but I'm worried she's one of the 48% who did not pass and I've been fighting with the district, the state and everyone I can about this – a dyslexic should not be forced to take this test. She reads constantly thanks to $15000 worth of tutoring through UF and she is a proficient and efficient learner. Does she do well on FCAT? No! Why? Because these tests are built on the opinions of a few. I hate FCAT and my daughter will probably never receive a diploma because this stupid test who doesn't test her on real-world/applicable knowledge – no wonder our drop out rate is so high!!

    May 21, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      You have my deepest sympathies. This test machine is inexorable. It uses the same logic as zero tolerance laws/rules. In other words none. Basic cop-out on the part of those responsible for ensuring a reasonable education for our children. Use a a test and set crisp cutoffs. There are few exceptions for getting around it.
      Given a little extra time and/or adjusting the question format your child could be properly tested.
      My boss and best friend is dyslexic. He's also one of the brightest engineers and managers I've ever met. Dyslexia caused all sorts of trouble for him through school, but given the opportunity he got through and is extremely successful and well respected in his field.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • checi

      You should get out of Florida and leave it to the old people and tourists.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • Shire

      No child left behind requires that all children in public schools be tested, no matter the severity of the handicap, although they may be eligible to take a different test if they are involved in a completely different curriculum than the general population. There are no exceptions without consequences to the school.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
      • MarkinFL

        Which is, of course, ridiculous.

        May 21, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • WS

      Your daughter is dumb, pure and simple, and it is therefore completely natural and proper that she not excel in academics. She should be preparing for work in a trade or craft, instead of being shoe-horned into higher learning for which she is not intellectually equipped. And you, as a parent, should not define that as failure. The REALITY is that a large percentage of the human population will ALWAYS be intellectually ill-equipped for academic pursuits, just as a large percentage of the population will ALWAYS be too slow/weak/uncoordinated to play professional sports. END OF STORY.

      May 21, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  8. Fr33th1nk3r

    We's don't need no gramma', yo! We be letting dem fools know, dey can't C me! We be ballin'....

    May 21, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  9. FL Mom

    As a parent of 2 kids in Florida, 1 currently in high school and 1 who has already graduated, I can tell you the main problem. The teachers have to spend so much time actually "teaching to the test" that there isn't enough time left to teach the basics. The artcle event states: "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."

    Now it is any wonder that majority of our kids, yes over 50%, can't even pass College entrance exams and must take remedial reading and/or math before taking their regular college courses? Kids don't get recess anymore, and barely get actual physical education in school. Now the teachers must dedicate classroom time to teach kids how to take the test.....yes how to actually sit there and decide which bubble to color in. Then they teach what is outlined to them for the test, all because the teachers and schools are judged on the outcome of these tests. Keep in mind, our previous Governor COULD NOT pass the FCAT!

    It's time to get rid of these tests and get back to the basics......reading, phonics, math, writing, and spelling.

    May 21, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      But students' progress musty be tracked and measured.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
      • MarkinFL

        Yes, and these tests are a complete failure at that task.

        May 21, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  10. Lola

    I bet they can spell words like "Big Mac and Ipad." The problem with US children is that they are raised by parents who did not have any culture in their lives and do not have the skills to raise children.

    May 21, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • C-Money

      It's spelled "iPad".

      May 21, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  11. teacher if Ft. Lauderdale

    I've been teaching for 15 years in Ft. Lauderdale. I spend a good part of my time teaching to the test. By that I mean I spend my time with my students getting them ready for the FCAT instead of teaching the regular and more useful subject matter. I do this and other teachers I know do this because if our kids don't pass the FCAT, it reflects poorly on us personally as teachers and it can affect our income. The system is indeed a failure. The state should work with the school district and develop a statewide program for each grade and subject. All students would be held to the standard based upon what they've been taught during the school year. The tests throughout the school year would reflect the subject matter being taught. Then leave it up to the teachers to teach their kids the curriculum. By doing that, they'll be able to pass the subject tests. That would be a fair way to evaluate teachers, not evaluating them on how well their students pass a standardized test. I've had kids who learn a variety of different ways and if I know where they are deficient, I can work on those areas instead of spending our class time teaching them how to answer standardized test questions.

    May 21, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • RE

      While I do believe parenting also plays into a child's education and we have a decided lack of parenting occuring, if you are spending the majority of your time teaching to the FCAT and your passing rates are decreasing in such substantial numbers in just one year, perhaps you should reconsider your career as a teacher.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
      • Florida Educator

        And what is your career? Are you successful because of teachers? Did you not read that the test was changed, and teachers were not provided with the rubric in advance in order to successfully teach students? Shame on you.

        May 21, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  12. Svengali

    Kids today text. They do not write except when they are made to in school. When the 80% writing competency score drops to 27% from one year to the next, does anybody not understand why? It's because kids are putting the stone tablet & chisel away and using electronic devices to communicate all the time, not handwritten text. Compare it to the kid who only throws a basesball in gym class at school and no where else. He sucks at it. Same with writing skills. If the measurement existed, you would see a correlating increase in typing/texting skills as handwriting skills decline. Duh.

    May 21, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Of course the fact that they raised the passing score AND started making it much harder to get that higher score with a stricter grading method would not have anything to do with it.

      If you think that writing skills would actually go from 80% to 27% in one year then I am more worried about YOUR education than I am of the kids in Florida.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Allen Michael

      This is true. I'm a grown man and my writing has suffered greatly because I type 99% of the time. My handwriting use to be excellent, now if I have to write more than a paragraph my hand start hurting.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      Which is in itself, a very bad thing....

      May 21, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  13. JJ11

    But they sure can play football, can't they???

    May 21, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  14. Pat

    Most kids in Florida can spell Meth correctly though!

    May 21, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  15. Allen

    I teach chemistry in a small Texas school district. Texas now requires at ALL students be "college ready" when they graduate from high school. That means they all have to take (and pass) the college-prep high school curriculum. So all students, and this includes special education students, must take chemistry, physics, and upper level math courses in high school. Additionally, ALL students must take and pass standardized end of course exams in these subjects.

    I don't conisder myself an elitist, but the notion that ALL students are going to be successful in upper level courses is unrealistic. So is the idea that ALL students can or even should go to college.

    Until state legislators realize we're not all of equal intelligence and that we don't all have the same abilities, the standardized testing nightmare is only going to get worse.

    May 21, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Too true. Everyone should have the OPPORTUNITY to get the highest level of education they can actually handle. Teachers cannot force every child to learn beyond their ability. And many kids have home issues that counter their own native intelligence. Problem is trying to judge teachers with a test that also reflects the child as a whole, not just what the teacher can influence.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Allen Michael

      If you don't go to college you are a failure, i'm being sarcastic of course but these administrators don't understand that College isn't for everyone. You have to convey the importance of education beyond..."so you will be prepared for college." Students say, "I don't plan on going to college, now what?"

      May 21, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  16. spent

    Wht dat menas is thuy caunt writ gooodie,

    May 21, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  17. Lady T

    I appreciate you comment...I really do. But...you may want to check your facts a bit. FL's state prisons are not paid for by the Feds. It's paid for my taxes collected in Florida. We don't have a income tax here in Florida but we do have sales tax, property tax, ect.

    May 21, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  18. day

    If you're determined to blame someone for your child not learning in school – look to his homelife. A child who knows his parent(s) don't care how he does in school is being set up to fail, while a child whose parent(s) are actively making sure work is done and in contact with teachers (even if it's only returning phone calls or emails and turning up at open houses) is more likely to succeed, regardless of the educational level of the parents or the class and cultural background of the family. As a volunteer classroom assistant and library aide, I knew children of single, low income parents to excel because their mom or dad was behind them, while the children of two parent families in the upper middle class came to school without completed homework, but larded with ridiculous excuses from their parents – 'we had a family event', 'her grandma was in town', 'we had to go shopping after school'.
    And don't blame recent governmental programs – I am 43 and work with many people of all age groups, at management level within my Fortune 25 company as well as externally, who can barely type up coherent business emails or memos.
    In essence, if you want kids to succeed in school, get behind them and support them. Stop thinking it's perfectly ok to tap out an email or Web posting with horrific spelling and grammar. Stop using the TV and game console as a day-care center. Encourage reading widely and writing (journalling, letters to Grandma, even fan letters to a celebrity). And take some responsibility for teaching your kids to be responsible, informed citizens who think for themselves, instead of following the herd blindly. Set the example you want your children to follow.

    May 21, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Mom in FL

      You should be ashamed of yourself for suggesting that "day". People like you are clueless. I spend countless hours a week working on school work with my children. The fact that the schools teach things BACKWARDS (literally) is the problem. You have no business influencing children if you honestly think that parents are the sole blame. That's often not the case. Educate yourself before you attempt to educate others.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
      • KKNatural1913

        What exactly is backwards?

        May 21, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
      • MarkinFL

        Personally, as a parent with two children in school, I will put 90% of the blame with the parents. You can get a perfectly good education here if you care enough to insist on it. We graduate thousands of world class students a year from the same schools that are "failing" so many kids. While our system is quite underfunded and undervalued it is nonetheless adequate to the task if given the resources and parents that actually put effort into their child's education. The schools that receive the most parental support consistently do the best. And its not just about money.

        May 21, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
      • Allen Michael

        Mom in Fl, you ever thought that maybe they were refering to you. Believe it or not, not all parents work with their children.

        May 21, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Agreewithday

      @day – Well said!!! So much of learning comes from home. It's not about income – it's about input – mainly from a parent or some responsible adult who sets expectations of success rather than failure. This is true regardless of income, race, neighborhood or the particular school attended. Sitting with children going over multiplication tables, the alphabet, memorizing a passage, geography, history – it takes commitment from the home or after-school care-giver – someone to teach students to want to learn and to dream.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  19. Richard Saunders

    Here's an idea, test each student when the move into the district, and place them in the appropriate grade based on their testing. Test them at the end on the year, and if they have learned enough, they move on to the next grade, otherwise they fail, and stay in the same grade.

    I see complaints about "teaching to the test", which I don't truly understand. Either the teachers need to change what their teaching, or they need to get the tests changed. Without consistent testing, there is no way to verify if students are ready to move on to more advanced learning.

    May 21, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Thinks2010

      That's a great idea. It might also be worthwhile to test each teacher in the subject(s) he will be teaching to see if he is capable of doing so at the grade level he is assigned.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • grey

      You'r soo old school. It's OK as long as they feel good about their failures.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Mom in FL

      You must either not be a resident of FL or not have children taking the test. These tests are used to measure a teacher's pay, so they teach only what's on the test. My daughter came home the first week of first grade with 3 + _ =11 type questions in her homework. I immediately called the school and said "We haven't even done 3 + 8 = _ ... how do you expect a child to do this ... it's backwards." I was told "We have enhanced our curriculum to accommodate the FCAT". They have completely changed the order of learning. My daughter got all A's and B's in 3rd grade, but received a low grade on the FCAT Reading portion and was held back. There's no debating it. I had a meeting with the principal and they said it's out of their hands. Instead of putting them in a stronger reading course the following year, they hold them back. Some kids don't test well. Yes, tests are needed to evaluate a child's performance and should be used to measure their learning over the year ... however, you shouldn't hold a child back because of one test that occured on ONE day. NOR, should a teacher's pay rest on that fact. My daughter is now in 6th grade (should be in 7th) and stresses out every year when it comes to FCAT week. She's terrified that if she does bad she'll get held back again. The amount of stress that is put on these kids and teachers in unhealthy and ridiculous.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
      • Charlie

        Algebra in 1st grade? Awesome! 🙂

        May 21, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • KKNatural1913

      You would have to many students who would be retained...I am an educator...I teach 7th grade I have students who are 16 and 17 years old

      May 21, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      There is no one test that can adequately test all students. If you create a test that all students could pass with enough help then you will inevitably shortchange the kids at every level above that. While trying to get the most out of the least students you will also get the least out of the best students. You need a multi-tiered approach that recognizes different levels of capability and one test will never fit all.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  20. Robert55405

    This is what GOP wants. If you are dumb, then you will most likely be a Republican. I believe, convicted felon Rick Scott succeeded doing what GOP wants, dumber the better.

    May 21, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • SB11

      I agree with you. The less educated, the less critical thinking people have the more likely they will believe the emotion/fear based messaging that the GOP is famous for spewing. This is the population that is so easily influenced that they vote against their own interests. This is just tragic for the kids and shameful for our nation.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • AV

      You are completely off base. Typical Libtard response. Seems that most democrats are the dumb ones because they are in the foodstamp lines. They are the ones gobbling up the unemployment. Republicans are smarter than that. We are in the check cashing line while the Dumbs are in the welfare line.

      Look up the stats if you think Im wrong...

      May 21, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
      • KKNatural1913

        AV check cashing line huh...hmmm Okay that says so much right there...

        May 21, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
      • MarkinFL

        Personally, I use direct deposit. Who waits in line to cash checks anymore?

        May 21, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  21. A Florida Teacher

    As a teacher in Palm Beach County, I knew this was coming...we all did. 1. The format of the test and the way that it was graded was completely changed. 2. The rigor of the subject and writing demands was increased. 3. The "on target" score was raised from a 3 to a 4. That's A LOT of change in one year, when teachers were not given much time to prepare the students, let alone do a trial run or two. The state had to back peddle a bit because they knew that had initiated the changes too quickly. Yet again, the Florida education system looks like a joke!

    May 21, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Shame on you

      While I can understand that teachers are frustrated, shame on you for blaming the test, Florida teacher, you should be teaching to the highest possible standard, not just hoping that you are teaching as high as the tests expect you to. I'd love to see this given to a group of students from a non american school and see what happens.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
      • Mom in FL

        Actually, the teachers are forced to teach a specific curriculum developed by each school board (to accommodate the FCAT). The teachers do the best they can. The fact that they have IDIOTS developing the curriculum is part of the problem. Not to mention, they have sub-contractors grading these tests that have quotas as to how many tests they need to grade per hour AND the state/schools/students/parents don't get to see the tests once they're graded.

        May 21, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
      • Florida Educator

        I'd like to see you write an essay about a camel ride in 45-minutes. But wait...you're not nine-years-old...you're just acting like it.

        May 21, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
      • Charlie

        @Mom in Fl – the subcontractors require a BA or BS minimum to grade these essays – they are graded holistically – this means that although a child might not be able to spell, has zero knowledge of paragraph structure, or knows little about grammar, they can still virtually get a 3 or 4 (maybe higher) if they can formulate a solid idea and back it up. Even when graded by college educated adults and given plenty of leeway when being evaluated, kids still do not pass. Why? Who knows – maybe they just don't want to try? Effort goes a long way when grading the FCAT – when I graded them, I saw some papers with 3 sentences, some with drawings, and some with one or two words – if a teacher gave a student a 5 because they wrote a dozen words, that teacher would be out of a job – if a parent gave their kid a six for writing three sentences they would easily be dismissed as crazy. Tell your kids to write until it hurts and write some more – no person grading these papers would give a student lower than a four filling up 2 pages with concise thought.

        May 21, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Cristian

      You mean "backpedal". You fail as a teacher.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • SteveD

      First-off, only 52% of the 9th and 10th graders were reading at their grade level BEFORE the testing changes, which is absolutely reprehensible. So, the fact that they've dropped this year really isn't the shocking bit.

      Second, it's a READING test. I don't see how the format of the exam could really make that much difference unless you are not really teaching kids to read and understand, but simply teaching them how to pass the test.

      I can't speak for the way english is taught, but I can tell you right now that's exactly what is being done in math education. No one is actually teaching mathematics anymore. They are simply teaching recipes for solving pre-canned numerical problems designed to be simple to solve on graphing calculators, which does not prepare students to actually go on and be able to understand any technical or scientific subject. Math educators are the most clueless people I've ever had to deal with – very little actual mathematics knowledge and absolutely no idea how any of it is used in science or engineering or what is required for students to go into those fields. This is not even mentioning all the ridiculous and insane educational schemes about teaching approximate answers for everything, letting PI=3.0, or allowing room in the answers to mathmatical problems for "personal interpretation" – insane schemes that people are actually taking seriously all over the country. And as someone who works with young engineers in the real world, I can tell you that they don't have the required fundamental math or physics skills anymore, in spite of their fabulous grades and multiple majors. If the english educators are as lost as the math educators, its a wonder that anyone can read.

      The overall trend in education for the last 10 years or so has been that technology is the solution to everything, and that we don't need to teach anyone any actual intellectual skills anymore because the machine will do the thinking for you. Unfortunately, that's just now how things work in real life. The increase in technological tools requires even MORE understanding of the traditional analytical and problem solving skills, as well as a more precise mastery of language. Technology is simply a set of tools, it is NOT a panacea for all of education's problems. It does NOT take more and more money to better educate students – it just takes a better philosophy and competent teachers who are teaching the fundamentals, and not following the latest idiotic trends and miracle fixes, and maintaining REAL standards. The best students in the world come from countries who spend only a fraction of the money on each student that we do, and do not emphasize the role of "educational technology" as we do. A good teacher can teach with chalk and a blackboard. If we've raised a generation that has to constantly be entertained, then we are done for, because the skills that ultimately matter are sometimes hard, and sometimes unexciting, but you have to learn them anyway to get the parts that are.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  22. AIMolina

    Touche!!! Well said stranger!!

    May 21, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  23. publiceducated

    How many standardized tests do you have to take once you're in college? Or in the professional world? Basically zero, correct? Which begs the question: why so much emphasis on them in K-12 if the adult world basically ignores them?

    May 21, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • AV

      With that thinking...Why do we need to take Geometry? When is the last time you had to figure out a Proof? Why do we have to disect animals in Biology? When is the last time you had to cut open a baby pig and identify its organs?

      Ever heard of being well rounded? Of course not...

      May 21, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Not so fast

      Actually many professional have standardized test to take in college, after college and in the work place. Real estate and mortgage brokers and bankers take state test anually. Doctors, dentist, and pharacist renew their certification any where from once a year to once every 3 years. Military personal recieved continuous training and in the most technical of fields are tested annualy to biannually and individuals faily the exam undergo additional training or removal from the program. Lawyers can not practice law when they exit college until they pass the state standardized BAR exam. engineers has to pass FE examinations and then PE exams.

      The list goes on and on. I do understand the question of " why do we need to have standardized test" but the answer is actually simple, so we can compare the readiness and or capabilities of an individual to the bench mark or standard to ensure the training was sucessful.

      The real question one should ask is " why are they using the test for anything else." For those who say there is stress over the test that the children feel... I will not discount that. I don't know your children and I would never seek to minimize their feelings. However I grew up in the mid west, we had standardized test each year. I went to a public school until 8th grade and a private school for 9th thru 12th. My two brothers both went to public schools until the completion of highschool. We all took the "Ohio" test and non of our teachers public or private EVER taught the test. We as students were not pressured from our parents ( I am not blaming parents) nor our teachers. It was just a test we took that did not affect our grades.

      When the results of the test came in we were told how the class did as a whole and how the school did as a whole. We were given our individual scores at the end of the day ( 5 minutes before the bell) so we could give the scores to our parents. My parents used this to compare our knowledge to that of our pears in each subject. with helped determine if more time should be spend on math or reading, science of comprehension, ect... The school used to to identify areas to strengthen. If the 3rd grade class was a little high on math from Mrs. Thomsons class then send Mrs. Thomson the 2nd graders entering 3rd grade next year with the lowest scores. And if the 7th grade reading was below average across the board, adjust the program for those students as they enter 8th grade to provide extra instruction in reading.

      It worked remarkably well, not just for me and my brothers. For dozens of our friends that went through the same thing. Using the test scores of the children to promote pay raises on teachers is just wrong. That is what is probaly pushing some teacher to teach the test. when students do well the teacher should absolutly be recognized for his of her efforts, but that will not be the school that needs finacial attention. the school school is failing needs the extra help.

      No I am not saying pay the teachers of failing classes more... I am saying ADD MORE TEACHERS. If the 4th grade class averaged 20% below the state average in math, sets send a few extra math teachers. Not only will the students need to learn the 20% gap but the entire 5th grade math subject matter when in 5th grade. If the student can have a second teacher in the room to explain the concepts a different way, or provide focused attention to small groups, for a semester or even a full year, the primary math teach will have more time to focus energies as well. It is likely the level of knowledge will increase faster, resulting in better level of preparness when taking the next years test.

      Keep in mind the students are not being punished in my model, the teachers are not being punished, the goal is to provide the students with the right tools to learn.

      May 21, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  24. Thinks2010

    This is an absolute shame.
    –This country needs to place an emphasis on education, and one place to start would be by praising the value of education. We should quit glorifying stupidity and ignorance on TV, in film, in advertising, etc.
    –Our politicians need to show some respect for education in their speech, their policies and with funding.
    –The big business of publishing text books needs to be spread out so that it is not concentrated in Texas.
    –We need to recognize that a strong foundation in reading, writing, math, and critical thinking is essential for all our students, and classes must be offered that give them an opportunity to apply that knowledge with some hands-on real-life applications.
    –Educational tracks should be offered for both college prep and trade school prep.
    –Cheating should by students and teachers should not be tolerated.
    –Teachers should be required to remain available to students who need additional help at for at least one hour one day a week at the end of the school day.
    –Parents should establish a minimum two-hour study period at home Sunday through Thursday.
    –Any business that applies for special visas to bring in foreign workers because they claim they cannot find U.S. citizens with the education and skills to fill positions, should be required to work with their local schools and universities by funding or providing classes and teachers in those fields.
    –There should probably be a longer school year.
    –Truancy should not be tolerated.
    –Class sizes should be reasonable.

    Will all this cost money? Yes. We need to realize that our current neglect of education is costing us as well in that we have an increasingly unemployable population and we are starting to lose our preeminence in innovation. An educated populace is crucial to a functioning democracy as well as a strong economy.

    May 21, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Sara

      Thank you for your sensible post! I agree completely and am glad that I am not alone. Without a well educated population, we will slowly become a 2nd world nation instead of a 1st world nation. Everyone is responsible for educating our population. Teachers, parents, the school system itself, the students and businesses all need to work together to get the job done. Everyone should be held accountable for doing their part.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  25. galileo225

    Another well educated red state..

    May 21, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Jerry

      My guess would be that a large majority of the students who failed the test have parents from the 'Blue' side of the spectrum.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  26. cc

    My mother was a teacher. She didn't mind being held accountable-if she couldn't teach her kids basic skills like reading & writing then she felt she wasn't doing her job. Because of her experience though I know that few teachers feel that way-they'll do almost anything to avoid being held accountable for how well (or poorly) they teach.

    May 21, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Bull, between my two daughters I've had experience with dozens of teachers. Out of all of them, perhaps 2 or 3 were substandard or just getting by.
      I happen to think these tests are a joke and do nothing to enhance my children's education. Teachers are forced to teach the test and forgo any personal creativity. Also, not all children will be able to perform as well as others. Some for inherent lack of ability and others from poor home lives and parents that do not care. Test scores do not reflect just the teacher.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • KKNatural1913

      Your mother probably wasn't held accountable based on standardized test results..things have changed

      May 21, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  27. bfd007

    Typical for the third world of South Florida, having raised three children in this crap whole state it is apparent that this is par for the course. Most of the kids here are state babies (Birth was paid for by the taxpayers) and most are on welfare and most do not even know English nor are they forced to learn. Top that with the fact that most schools are all black and Latino and they act like animals, go to the schools and see for your self. Even the teachers are scared of these animals, just ask one! If you have children,,,,,move out of this state it is a third world crap hole were they let "CRIMINALS" (illegals) go to our schools and force the taxpayer to educate them. As well as take up class space for American Citizens when in fact these children are "criminals" for being in this country unlawfully !!!! Just because they are kids deport these :CRIMINALS" !!!!

    May 21, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Elmer

      I don't think you like where you live, you need to pack up and move.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • AIMolina


      May 21, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Oh, shut up. You probably live in Hoboken anyway.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Randy

      I agree with you 100%. My oldest daughter went to school in Florida for three years. We couldn't take it anymore and moved out of the state; for all of the reasons you stated. she is doing very well now but it was a struggle to get her up to where she needed to be due to the poor schools.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
      • checi

        That happened to me too Randy. I was taken to FL when I was in the 11th grade and they handed me an American History text book...the same text book I used when I was in the 8th grade in NY. Four months and less than one semester after I got there, they sent me back to NY to finish school.

        May 21, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  28. Tybar

    These kids are being short-changed by their own parents, not by the school system. Also have to wonder if the change is not at least partly driven by the crack-down on administrative cheating on standardized tests?? Seems to be a huge drop that might be caused by something other than just higher standards.

    May 21, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Simple check would be to grade last years tests to this year's standards. Bet you would see the same drop.
      Problem is that they not only raised the passing grade from a 3 to a 4, they also raised the bar for getting a 4. Double whammy, everyone saw this coming. It is no surprise to the people that knew about all of the changes.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  29. MathProf-38 years

    It's the American culture that has dramatically changed. The 1950's are long gone, and nothing will ever bring that back. No need to assess blame, the culture has changed. Rich kids will always do better from now on, as their parents can afford to pay for private education. End of discussion.

    May 21, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • KGarry

      My kids had a public school education from kindergarten through grad school. One is a PhD in physics, the other is an engineer.

      I've seen inspiring stories about inner city schools that are succeeding. Medgar Evers in Brooklyn is one. Look what is happening at the University City School in Philadelphia. There are programs that are rethinking how education should be delivered, and there are success stories.

      That doesn't mean I don't think the divide between rich and poor is good... I don't, nor do I think it is equitable. But to use that as an excuse for poor education is a cop out.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  30. marc

    Most of the kids in Dade County schools can't even speak English you go to the schools and all you hear is Spanish between them the teachers and their parents. How can they learn to read and write our language when it's not important to them. I guarantee if we put an end to the one for English two for Spanish system and the must be bilingual or speak Spanish to work garbage they would score a 200%.

    May 21, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      There is a huge difference between can't and don't.

      I'll stake a years salary that the vast majority of the kids speak English. I used to live there and never met anyone under 18 that did not speak English.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  31. Michael

    Thats what happens when you have a Tea Party Govenor like Florida who is a troll for the Koch brothers. Scott in
    his first year in office took millions from Public Education and tried to bust the Unions. And we Floridians elected this
    monster. So sad.

    May 21, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Ruby

      No, WE all did not elect him. But he is one-termer, so we got that going for us.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      The ONLY satisfaction I got out of this bozo was the reaction of my Repub neighbors that voted for him when they suddenly realized what they had voted in. Almost priceless ( not quite worth actually having him in the Governor's seat., but almost).
      Some of them may actually pay attention to the next candidate they vote for. I hope.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  32. factisfacts

    O look they already mapped out the future GOP voters lol

    May 21, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  33. Kevin

    Apparently the majority of people who read this article, and found it necessary to comment, didn't acutally understand the article. They made the test harder, lower scores are the result. This way the truly above average students stand out. The change in the test does not in any way reflect whether the students are educated better or worse, or that the teachers taught better or worse. Please think before you post.

    May 21, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  34. GOP

    The Bush family is obviously MUCH bigger than we thought!

    May 21, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • DeeNYC

      BAM! Comment of the year, hilarious.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  35. MysteriaKiito

    Blame the internet and cell phone use. Kids learn horrible spelling and grammar through technology. Heck, some adults forget how to spell correctly from over use of internet and texting. My kids will never own a cell phone and will have limited internet access.

    May 21, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • bobthedriller

      Language is and always will be evolving. It's different now just as it was 50 years ago, 500 years ago. People still communicate just fine. Would you prefer we return to Queen's English? or perhaps Latin?

      May 21, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Shape

      You only think you are helping your kids by limiting their cell phone and computer/internet access. You are preparing your kids for a world of the past; not the world of the future where the ability to integrate technology into your job and life will be a requirement.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  36. Lou

    I live in Florida and am saddened that the State Board of Education decided to revise the benchmark and lowered to a 3 to seem like students passed. That is cheating our kids of a proper future where they can function and be an integral part of society. Such a disfavor to our kids.

    May 21, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  37. SMH

    This is what happens when you take hundreds of millions of dollars out of the education system!! But, repubs will tell u its "the right thing to do" why would they say this????? Because if you're dumb and can't read or have simple logic you will believe anything. Like how the pres. was born somewhere else and has fooled the government so he can DESTROYthe country!!

    May 21, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Lou

      If you don't have an effective program no money in the world can fix it.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • Chris

      You sounded reasonable until the last sentence. Than you lost all credibility.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
      • peridot2


        May 21, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • DeeNYC

      I'm a dem but it's not the money, it's the horrible leaders of the teachers union who allow the administrators to squander the money away and keep horrible teachers employed. Get rid of the teachers union and things will improve quickly.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
      • Al

        Teacher unions do not have anything to do with this. It is the Florida Department of Education that does. Educate yourself before you say an asinine statement such as what you typed.

        May 21, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Fappington

      According to the U.S. Department of Education... "Total education funding has increased substantially in recent years at all levels of government, even when accounting for enrollment increases and inflation." Spending per pupil has doubled, test scores are going down. Funding education doesn't work... those who allocate the funds (state governments) do so in a corrupt and unfair manner. Educational change has to come from the family and parents stepping in. CHECK YOSELF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOSELF.

      May 21, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  38. DBZ

    We might be able to revive those test scores with the Dragonballs!

    May 21, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
  39. theseconddavid

    This will be the result until we realize that some children are meant to grow up to be ditch diggers. Countries with great educational systems don't try to teach every child the same thing. They are being sorted from fifth grade on up, putting low performers together tp learn trades and putting high performers together for college prep. Until we give up on this notion that every child is equally intelligent, our education system will fail.

    May 21, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Leila

      I'm glad somebody finally said it! It is true. Maybe not ditch diggers, but certainly something in vocational trade and blue collar industries. I have many male students for instance who simply want to work in iron, welding, auto mechanic, and construction. That is their goal. Who are we to push them into another path. We need to model our education system after Germany. Kids are placed on tracks according to their abilities, scores, and grades. If a teenager does not like the path they are on, say vocational, he or she can talk to a counselor to get their grades on track for university.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
      • Regina

        Leila, I agree that vocational education can be just rewarding as university education. I wish my ex would see that with our children. One daughter didn't do well her first semester of college...she is excelling at vocational education to become a Paramedic. She loves going to school and she loves her current job as an EMT and is excited to finish her Paramedic certification. My ex husband makes her and another daughter feel like failures because they both prefer the vocational education path instead of college education path. My husband and I encouraged our daughter to do vocational education. She is a Junior and is very happy and excelling in Drafting. In addition to loving her vo-tech classes she is doing better in her HS classes now. She doesn't feel like we are shoving her to do something she isn't happy doing. College is not for everyone and parents need to realize that and encourage their children to be all they can be, even if it doesn't mean a three figure salary at the end of the day. Success shouldn't be measured by the amount of money you make. I am proud of all my children. They can be happy and productive members of society with our without college degrees!

        May 21, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  40. Bob

    Garbage in, Garbage out.

    May 21, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • StevenJ.Correia

      You make no sense. Can yo expand on your argument a bit?

      May 21, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  41. SabrinaBergman

    I have visited several school lately, and I can tell you that the teachers are not the problem. The teachers are better than ever–highly trained, masters degrees, etc. The problem is that their power is so much more limited than it used to be. Students are out of control and the teachers cannot discipline them anymore. Everyone is so concerned about lawyers and getting sued that they are walking on egg shells. The students are hyper, fidgety, crass, distracted and disrespectful. They learn these habits outside of school. The teachers have little recourse and spend so much time trying to gain control of their class and still be within the confines of the law. Bottom line, get rid of the classroom 'distractions' and the parents/lawyers ability to sue in that situation and we will have better results.

    May 21, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • SabrinaBergman

      e.g. getting the troublemakers out of the classroom, not hitting them with rulers!

      May 21, 2012 at 12:28 pm |

      Funny how that coincides with the fact that kids don't get recess anymore and "gym" class is a joke. They are kids, they need to run off the energy or they will be out of control, hyper, fidgety and distracted. I am not making excuses for disrespectful behavior. Untfortunately, this generation is being raised by the "Everyone gets a trophy to be fair" generation that believe that you are OWED respect just for your mere exsistance on this planet. These children can hardly be taught how to be respectful when their parents certainly don't have a clue.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • from florida mom of high school student

      which schools or school districts did you visit? You write that "The students are hyper, fidgety, crass, distracted and disrespectful. They learn these habits outside of school." I have not heard of a single teacher in our local schools that is unable to "control" the student(s) in his'her classrooms and I am very involved in my daughters education and school and volunteer at a constant basis. Not once have I had a problem with any student, other than the occasional rolled eye at the middle or high school level. You seem to also "blame" outside factors for this. Where do you think they are learing this behavior? At home, at church, their friends and peers, the news,...? We have not yet received the individual student scores. My child has always received a 4 or 5 on her FCAT scores. The test this year had many changes from all the years prior and maybe you should wait to "blame" the students for their "bad behavior" until we have the final results of the ongoing investigations into this years FCAT.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
      • Uroutoftouch

        I think you live in your own little world, Not saying that every school is like this but, ALOT of classes of students mood disorders or come from dysfunctional families; this carries over into the class room. Teachers hands are tied when for example an ADHD kid has an episode, or a kid with Aspergers (or lower lvl autistic) has a meltdown. Just saying feel sorry for your daughter if you brought her up to think that everything is just "peachy".

        May 21, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  42. kevin

    See what GOP leadership brings? Cut education...end up with morons!.

    May 21, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Alfred E. Neumann

      And they'll be voting before you know it!

      May 21, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • SeeBee

      Obviously counterproductive. Cut education, end up with more Democratic voters.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
      • DeeNYC

        The whole state is not designed to support life anyway, it's for themeparks and old people.

        May 21, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • buttonre

      i got an idea....get off the damn computer and go read a book to your kid. parents need to parent. teachers need to teach. the DOE needs to stop using a stupid ass standardized test to determine the future of a student and what a teacher is mandated to teach them.

      for those who keep on bringing up elections and partisan politics...go watch some more tv and leave the solutions to those who have the intellect to actually make one happen rather than snide comments on a message bored.

      If you ask me the problem are parents who do not parent. not saying some parents are bad but some need to get their priorities straight. its difficult but this problem starts at home...and unfortunately the poor habits, behaviors, and lifestyles start with the parents too.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
      • caw

        The problem with modern education is that teachers are now forced to teach test taking rather than the subject. Since their pay is directly connected to how many students pass the standardized test (not to mention being fired if their student don't pass), instead of actually understanding the subjects, teachers teach test taking.

        May 21, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • caw

      Kevin, if the GOP actually allows the students to be educated, it would cut down people willing to vote for them. An educated, independent voter, is the GOPs worst nightmare.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  43. mike58

    yea those teachers Unions are really having a positive impact
    teachers get richer student get dumber

    May 21, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • SabrinaBergman

      actually, there is a direct correlation of states where the teachers union has more power to higher standardized test scores and a better overall educational experience.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
      • DeeNYC

        except where there are chartered schools which consistently outperform public schools. The board of ed and the teachers unions have become no better than construction unions, corrupt and useless.

        May 21, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • StevenJ.Correia

      Try parenting, then a teacher can do their job. Or go to college for six years, rack up 100k and student loans for 35 grand a year and fix the problem yourself.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • Wondering

      "Teachers getting richer".....BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! That was a good one.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • Uroutoftouch

      Teachers in the state of Florida have not had a raise in 4 years, and actually have lost money due to the fact that they have to pay into their retirement fund.

      May 21, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  44. Tom

    I feel so bad for the students they are getting so short changed today. My sister is a teacher (special Ed.) in Orlando and she tells me about the war stories. But look at the bright side, our illustrious government just passed a $65 Billion budget for defense. They can all go into the military now that they have so much money. They will not be able to read the entrance forms but who cares as long as they can pull a trigger of a gun and willing to die for their country. Isn't Democracy Great, shame it left this country years ago. I miss it.

    May 21, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • waf_98

      They also passed a multi-billion dollar budget for the EPA so they can harass citizens and obstruct job creation by saving insignificant animals in limited ecosystems. Let's abolish the EPA and save a bundle, Tom!

      May 21, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
  45. Sussay

    So the level of acceptable achievement was lowered from 4 to 3 because so many students failed to achieve the benchmark? Sure... that makes sense. While we're at it, can I just change my bank balance from $1700 to $170,000?

    May 21, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  46. Cinman

    Future Republicans. No need to read, write, add or have any cognitive skills. If they did, they would leave the party.

    May 21, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  47. Skips

    Perhaps the students performed so poortly because instead of spending more time on writing and the 3 r's, they had to take time during school to learn about "little Bobby has two fathers".

    May 21, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • susan

      often the most obvoius explaination is the correct one. The old test writing tests were simplified to bolster results. As we move to common core, where instead of states defining their own level of rigor for measurements we will have a way to trully measure apples to apples. I imagine this is simply the pain of making that leap instead of gradually entering the pool. This will proabably becoome a more current issue.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • FCAT ok, education not ok

      Perhaps kids all over the USA are performing poorly in reading and writing because youth today exclusively use "text-speak". Look at many of the comments here and the atrocious grammar used. Many people today don't even use punctuation and nobody corrects it. How we write reflects our education and cultural knowledge. Write like an idiot and you will be perceived as one. Teachers and parents have obviously failed to get that reality across to youth today. Text-speak is not ok and it does make people look bad. Speak and write properly and you will have a chance at being perceived and treated like an educated, cultured human being. Content matters too. Spewing hate and personal attacks definitely precludes respect as well. Fix the students, not the FCAT. Hight standards for all students is always correct.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  48. james 70094

    This is what happens when you lower standards in response to poor performance. There is little, if any, parental support for children attending school. Parents complain there is too much homework, the tests are too hard, etc. When the standardized test results come in low, they lower standards. Look what the artcile says, "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." No wonde young people can't compete with immigrants. Legal immigrants are bringing a basic education that, apparently, many in the US don't have.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • farleyjc

      Good point and I thought the same thing when I read the article. What does lowering the standards from a 4 to a 3 accomplish? Nothing!

      Let's face it, the U.S. educational system is broken. There are many causes, but in my opinion the main problem is the union protects incompetent, uncaring teachers. The pay scale is based upon tenor and length of service as opposed to merit and performance. Fixing this would be a good start.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
      • Sussay

        Parents play a huge role to! I think what needs to be added to the mix is that parents need to be graded on their engagement in their child's learning.

        May 21, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
      • Bigereads

        Blaming the teachers, unions, blacks and hispanics is typical of those who refuse to place the blame where it belongs.
        On the Parents. Close the school doors so Mommy and Daddy can't run into the school to whine about their little darlings everytime one of them cannot get their way. Make PTA meetings a must just like Parent-Teacher meetings.
        Allow the little darlings no quarter to whine about. School is about learning, not baby sitting and that is what so many parents use it for. We grew up with parents who couldn't or write very well, but we never caused trouble in school and if we got yelled at by the teacher, we never told our parents for fear of their punishment. Today's parents are quick to back their kids for the most trivial offense and quick to blame the teachers when their lazy kids fail to put any effort into learning. Parents claim they are overburened working their jobs, but so were ours. Lock the school house and keep the overindulging parents out. Force those little whiners to obey their teachers. Take away their cell phones Ipods and other expensive toys and make them study, study,. study. Stop using the schools as baby sitters for parents too lazy to continue teaching at home, which is their job.

        May 21, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
      • StevenJ.Correia

        Yeah, because so many teachers choose the profession because they don't like children or teaching. Use your brain and look to the degradation and collapse of the American family.

        May 21, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
      • parents are responsible too

        Don't forget that a child's education goes on both inside and outside the classroom. Parents also need to have high standards for their kids and make sure they are attending class, doing their homework and understand their lessons. When it becomes appaernt that your kid is having problems, tutor them yourself, hire a tutor or talk with the teacher to identify the problem and fix it. Don't just ignore it or worse, not even be aware of it. They are YOUR kids and it it YOUR business to make sure they're doing ok. Work WITH their teachers and complement what they are learning in the classroom with additional learning at home with the right TV shows, extracurricular activities and time at the library. Don't have time for that? Don't have kids. Between mom and dad, there should be time to keep the kids supervised and learn with them. Many people want kids but won't give them the time and attention they need to succeed. Pregnancy requires no degree, conscience or thought about the future, unfortunately, and the kids are the ones who pay the price.

        May 21, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
      • Wondering

        How would you suggest we merit pay gym teachers or music teachers or art teachers or any other teacher that doesn't teach English/math/history?

        May 21, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  49. Katz

    And the teachers are demanding more money! Really?! It's a fact that a few years ago, the blacks and hispanics cried that the SAT's were too high. So, we lowered all the SAT's plus the test to become a Fireman and Policeman! Is it the minorities again not making the grades? Get rid of the illegals. You have a class you can't even teach because of language!

    May 21, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • SabrinaBergman

      These tests are huge SCAMS. They do nothing but measure how well students do on that specific test. Princeton studied these tests and found them useless. Schools are turned into test preparation centers where they learn how to take the test instead of actually learning subjects and making real applications. The people blaming the teachers is outrageous. We don't blame the troops when they are losing wars. We blame the people at the top, and the battle plans.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
      • RonnieL

        The schools really are turning into test preparation centers. We were doing English exercises in Spanish class to prepare for FCAT when I was in high school.

        May 21, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
      • DeeNYC

        what a load of bs. Plus these tests the kids took are basic reading and writing, if 50% can't pass the tests it's squarely on the teachers shoulders. People that complain about tests are dumb people who can't pass the tests.

        May 21, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • Al

      Are you serious?

      May 21, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  50. Larry Moniz

    Wow, what a great education system. If students do poorly then simply lower the qualifying grade to demonstrate they're on an even keel. What happens when the passing score is zero and the kids are unable to write their own names? Will we then get rid of incompetent teachers?

    May 21, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Joe

      Start with the Dept. of Education.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • parents are responsible too

      No. We will have to test prospective parents on parenting skills and commitment to their future child's education before allowing people to have children. If people value a proper education and wait until they are financially, physically and emotionally ready to care for children, our kids would be doing so much better. Fix the teachers and the parents and then the kids will do well.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:50 pm |


    May 21, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • Joe

      uneducated teachers create moron students.,,but they love our children ,how sweet.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • StevenJ.Correia

      I bet they can spell and use punctuation though. By the way, a teacher is required to go back to school and earn a Master's degree in most states. If you have a child, then I think I may be looking at the problem. An ignorant fool looking to assign blame....

      May 21, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  52. jim

    The teachers should go back to cheating, it works better.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:49 am |
  53. Ms. Fury

    As these comments show, we should be outraged about the scores on this test. I happen to sympathize with all parties, parents, educators and other community members. What we need to do, however, is stop looking for someone to blame and to start looking for solutions to this problem. For anyone who has ever taken a test, you know that you study what is going to be on the test. Using high stakes tests naturally drives everyone to focus on the test itself; the rest of the material is forgotten. If we want to hold students accountable for what they learn (let us not forget that the students are the ones – hopefully- taking the exams) then we need a way to measure it. Sounds to me as if everyone is really more concerned with the ineffective test measures.

    Secondarily, most of us on here went through K-12 education without such assessments or standards and we turned out just fine. Student needs and desires are changing, and the classroom hasn't figured out how to engage them in a better way. If you don't think that classrooms should adjust to students, then why is it any surprise that so many are now falling below basic achievement levels?

    May 21, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • roger

      The tests are measuring the effectiveness of how kids are learning. I would like to see how they are going to fix it instead of thinking we need to not test so we go back to not knowing how they are doing. Should the teacher be doing something else with their life? Maybe the kids/parents don't care and nothing we do will get them to study? Would requiring a kid to pass the test to move on to the next level motivate them to study? If we tell them what we expect and by the end of the year they fail I don't see how that is anyones fault but the parets.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:57 am |
      • Wondering

        I wonder what would happen if the parents (no matter how poor) had to pay a much higher tax if their kids did not pass the standard tests. Hummmm.....

        May 21, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  54. firetreekauai

    I taught graduate school psych for a number of years. I was constantly bewildered at how at least half of my students...all of whom were supposed to have graduated college with a bachelor's degree and a decent grade...could not construct a complete sentence, could not spell (but would use the wrong word under spell-check), and could not think critically.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Jason

      I see the same thing in the business world. You would be surprised how many folks collect six figure pay checks and can't write to save their life.

      Writing well is something we all think we know how to do and expect everyone else to as well. Truth be told, a vast majority of us are terrible at it.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • DonBeal

      I don't think "graduated college" is correct. Graduated from college is correct.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  55. Kevin Nivek

    Question 1: George Zimmerman – innocent or guilty?
    Question 2: define "white Hispanic."
    Question 3: What are those boats that keep coming in from Cuba?

    These questions are hard, no wonder they don't do well.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • james 70094

      OK, here you go Kevin Nivek

      Question 1: George Zimmerman – innocent or guilty? guilty, he left his vehicle and sought a confrontation. In some states that would be premeditated murder.

      Question 2: define "white Hispanic." People from Spain. That is where the Spanish language comes from.

      Question 3: What are those boats that keep coming in from Cuba? Rafts.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:53 am |
      • trolls

        James, please don't feed the trolls. Simply ignore and read something else.

        May 21, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  56. fatlip11

    No wonder so many Floridians vote republican.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Michael Winner

      These kids can't vote yet, but when they can vote in 4-5 years, they'll most likely vote Democrat. Stupid votes stupid.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:55 am |
      • progress

        The two-party-system in stupid.

        May 21, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
      • progress

        The two-party-system is stupid

        May 21, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • Mike

      That is pretty funny. But if you are interested in learning the truth first hand it will be a two step process. First is to look who just took over "majority" status in the population. Second will be to take a fifth grade reading book to any town in any city with a street named "Martin Luther King" or some variation of that and ask ANYONE you see there to read a page or two to you. You do realize that with very VERY few exceptions all those folks vote democrat . . .right? They do, historically speaking.

      The funny thing about the education system is that no matter how good it is, no matter how much money is poured into it, the students MUST be interested in learning and willing to learn in order for it to work. That is beyond rational dispute. But it sure doesn't stop a whole lot of . . people, for blaming the education system for their kids being functionally illiterate.

      Hate to tell you – and everyone else – this but more money, more teachers, more equipment, none of that will fix the problems. But a little chlorine in the gene pool certainly would.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Skips

      Problem is that FL went to Obama in the last election... please try to pay attention

      May 21, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
      • hst

        & then voted in a Republican governor... please don't attempt to make this political

        May 21, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  57. Jason

    You can't teach writing within a standardized test format. It can only be learned by doing it frequently and on subjects that are actually interesting.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • Etm

      Jason I agree with you. I immigrated to America 40 years ago after getting educated by an all boys catholic school from my country of birth. In my old school you are tested 6 periodical periods during the entire school year, and it is not by scantron. On literature and english You are given several subject matters to select from and is expected to write a short article, it you are getting tested in mathematics you are given a question and is expected to show step by step how you get to the answer, not choose the correct answer from the scantron.

      Those who did not pass the test obviously is not ready for the next level and is held back. Brutal? Yes but but the graduate of my high school are better prepared for college and are sought by universities and colleges.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • vplaya23

      No one stated you could teach writing skills through standardized testing. The test (like all tests) is meant to measure a certain skill set.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  58. Ed L

    Our children's educational advancement would be so much better if there were no tests, or so I have read in a few newspaper articles. Without testing there will be no inferiority feelings that presently exist when students fail their tests, if tests must be. How about shortening multiple choice questions to two selections. This would give them a 50/50 chance of choosing the correct answer. It is a bit more difficult with four possibles, even though at least one choice is ridiculous, requiring the student to select the correct answer out of the three remaining. It would be a disaster if students were required to take tests requjiring an essay response. The passing level would decrease far below 50%. As it is, it doesn't make much difference what is done to remedy our studens lack of learning. Money certainly is not the answer or the Washington DC public schools would rank among the highest. It would help a great deal if we had intelligent students.who applied themselves.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • Dave

      are you seriously asking to change multiple choice questions to 2 choices? those questions are called True/False questions. if you're asking to reduce the 4 choices to 2, why not take it a step further to a single answer choice. this way, no child will be left behind and will (almost) guarantee that all children will pass. if you've been in the school system within the last few decades, you'd know that at least 2 of the answer choices are the complete opposite of the truth.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • Alfred Watkins

      Tests are designed to test a students understanding of the material. If you cut the multiple choice selection down to two you give students a 50% chance of getting the question right based on a blind guess, that is ridiculous. What that means is students wouldn't have to retain anything they learned they could simply just guess and probably do fine. That is doing a disservice to the students that actually prepare and study hard to be at the top. Their hard work and effort is not rewarded. The reason why there are 4 or more choices is because students actually have to apply what they know. You can't simply dilute questions to allow more students to pass, students should pass because they are prepared and know the material.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:49 am |
  59. Etm

    So Florida Department of education dropped the benchmark to 3 after finding that 50 percent failed the 4 benchmark. So for more student too pass they are lowering the standard. It these are the kind of educators we have then this nation is doomed.

    Why don't they give the same 4 benchmark test to students from India, China and Southeast Asian countries and check what percent of their student population will pass. The poll is now showing that US education system is number 17 in the world and going downhill.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • hst

      I think you're being a bit drastic... if these are the kind of educators we have then we're doomed. Are you kidding me? Because the state changed the standards on which a test is graded in 1 year? If you look at other states that have changed their tests this drastically over the years you will see that there have been similar results. Maybe they should lower their standards now without telling the rest of the country so their scores will soar & you can comment on how great education is.

      In regard to comparing ourselves to other countries, it's an unfair comparison. 1) In many countries, students are tracked in to different programs out of more rigorous ones, & are never part of the sample group that takes the PISA. 2) All of our students are part of this pooled sample group 3) No other country has the kind of diversity we do (racial, religious, social class, cultural, etc)

      If you want to look at this statistically for you to know what I'm saying is true, look up research on the SAT score averages between states in the US. Research shows, time & time again, that the states who make most to all of their students take the SAT have a lower overall score than the states where less students take the SAT. Why do the states where fewer students are taking it have a higher average? Duh, because they only (or most) students taking the test are doing so for a purpose – college acceptance.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:56 am |
  60. Joe

    Good,now we can have American Orange Pickers,lol I'm smarter than a 5th grader.lol I guess that there was more worthless that should be fired.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • ABBFLA

      Picking Oranges is one of the jobs Americans don't want, when they can free money from the Gov. I grow and pick my own Oranges. If you mix the juice from two Valencia oranges with one Naval Orange you get the best juice I've ever tasted. I grew up in NJ. They're just as dumb there as here. It's not us that's the problem, it's them!

      May 21, 2012 at 11:33 am |
  61. aurelius

    Florida, isn't that the state that was and still is under the control of the GOP with Bush as their governor. I wonder if FOX reports on these scores. Anyway, for all those idiottts who intend to vote GOP, that's what you have in store.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • ABBFLA

      Florida has had dem majorities that supported the "dumbing down" because it made minorities look/feel bad. Stand you ground passed with unanimous support from reps and dems. The dems are much more in control of things like schools here in FL.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:24 am |
      • Florida Teacher

        What an idiot! Bush isn't the Governor...Dick Snott is!! And it's been a Republican state for YEARS! Good try to blame it on the Democrats, though.

        May 21, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • tidho

      lmao, no Bush is not the Governor....nice try though.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • Florida resident

      Bush is not the governor and has been out of office for at least 6yrs now.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • CW

      Bush the gift that keeps on giving. I hear that Bush may have some sort of weather machine and may be contributing to global climate change.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • FL Momma

      @aurelius Bush was the gov. a few years ago! The state voted in Rick Scott who is just as bad or worse in many areas.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
  62. suthunyankee

    Our kids are getting creamed by other country's kids. The government needs to seriously trim the fat in many many areas, shut down alot of frivolous programs, and put money into the schools. We all know this. but most of all, parents need to give a damn about their child's education. the kids also need a boot in the behind to focus on what is important and not be distracted by all of the crap out there. (texting 24-7, internet, video games, couch potato-itis. etc.) Pretty soon we are going to have a national populous that can't communicate without text acronyms, obese and can't run from here to there without having a stroke. It's an overall epidemic.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Gman

      I agree here 100%.. you hit it on the head!!!!

      May 21, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  63. Jim

    And today they announced they lowered their standards??

    May 21, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  64. ABBFLA

    My kids both passed with plenty of room to spare, although only 20% of their fully integrated school passed. It's not the schools, it's the parents or lack of. Lawn maintenance is a big industry here.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  65. IsAnyoneReallySurprised

    And all they had to do was spell "Cat"....

    May 21, 2012 at 11:18 am |

    I believe the picture on the top of the article explains A LOT about the problem....

    May 21, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  67. Joe

    Good,now we can have American Orange Pickers,lol I'm smarter than a 5th grader.lol

    May 21, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  68. wesser

    The Union teachers continue to preside over the declining educational system in the U.S.

    Union teachers will do to America's children what the Unions did to America's manufacturing.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Papabearvvv

      Not the teachers, not the union.. The Florida Legislators are at fault.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • hst

      Are you kidding? You have obviously not been to Florida or you would know that the unions there are a joke that legally aren't allowed to do much. But I do have to say this about the Florida Teachers Union, thank goodness they're there since the state made them begin putting a percentage of their check in for retirement & Rick Scott, the governor, turned around last year & used teachers' money that was supposed to be invested in their pensions for other purposes. Courts agreed it's illegal to take money invested by workers & not actually invest it but use it in Florida's budget. Makes you realize the motives Scott had when he pushed so hard to have all teachers "invest" 3% of their pay to begin with.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  69. rad666

    Hmm is it because the test is given in English and it is not a requirement to learn,speak or read English in this country

    May 21, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • ABBFLA

      A large part of Florida's immigrant population is illiterate in their native language. There is no was to teach them English.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Ed L

      My finger grows weary from continually pressing 1 for English.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  70. NVJON

    Face the facts. The intentional dumbing-down in U.S.schools has succeeded. We are now well on our way to a
    two-class society...those who educated themselves in spite of the schools, and the "drone" class which will fall further down each year and remain on the bottom for their lifetimes. Not to worry, the "drone" class will feel really good
    about their "self-esteem".

    May 21, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  71. mb2010a

    Florida please take note...this is what happens when you vote Republicans into office.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • tidho

      mb2010a, if you must make this political then be honest about the political influence in our educational system.

      Fact is we're being sold on this idea that money solves the problem when it does not. Democrats, teacher's unions, and the media all sell us this concept. Reality is other countries produce far superior results for far less.

      We teach our children the wrong things, the wrong way, and far too many aren't getting the right support at home. That's the problem, and paying teachers more doesn't fix it, playing petty politics with the issue doesn't fix it, and pretending the system isn't a complete joke won't fix it either.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:35 am |
  72. Alex Santana

    Is this a surprise? Anyone who has ever been to Florida, knows full well that it is the dumbest state in the Union. I am always amazed when I go there for business (never would go on my own!!) how stupid the people are. They drive dumb, their service in stores, hotels and restaurants are dismal, they only think of being at the beach or in the water. I truly believe the sun has altered their decision making process and other common sense elements. Now here is proof of what I have known for years, Floridians are the stupidest people on the planet. And then all those morons who retire there, with IQ's less than their shoe size only add to the stupid factor....What a sewer.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • Jason

      You'd never visit the Florida Keys on your own? If you think the point of going to Florida is to converse with hotel staff and outlet mall retailers, I'm not surprised by your assessment. Get out more, dude.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • Florida Teacher

      As a native Floridian, I kindly request that you keep your arrogant self out of my state. Thanks, ya'll!

      May 21, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Leila

      At the risk of being cursed by devout Florida lovers and residents, I must agree. I have never been so disappointed in a group of people. The dialect for one is incomprehensible among panhandle whites and the majority of blacks I encountered and lived by. Try as I might to understand their English, I just could not make out a single word they said. The customer service was horrible; people were rude. I just was not used to that having lived in Hawaii and California; I could not understand why people were so disenchanted with their jobs and their lives. Moreover, my step children live in Florida and their education is seriously lacking, although I dare say most of it is probably their own fault. There is a culture there of apathy toward education and you can see it in the kids.

      May 21, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  73. East of Eden

    I'm sure a lot of the kids can recite all the lyrics to the latest songs and rant about the stats of athletes all day long. Education begins at home, parents have to do a better job at unplugging the TV, Computer and taking a more active role in Education. I can't wait to see what my native New York scores look like... Think evaluation day is today... Yikes.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:11 am |
  74. Anne

    It'd be interesting to see the breakdown by county. Despite the criticism here, I bet the panhandle rednecks scored just as poorly as the Spanish speakers in Miami.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • J

      50% of 8th graders failed in Okaloosa County, which is the #1 county in FL.

      May 21, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  75. noteabags

    They should lower taxes even further. That should fix it.

    May 21, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Carter

      We spend the 2nd most per student in the free world and yet we get 17th-26th best results. Money is not the the problem with our education in the this country.

      Here are the problems.

      1a. Teachers unions

      1b. Lazy parents

      May 21, 2012 at 11:21 am |
      • Jason

        1c. Idiots that think all socio-economical problems can be be boiled down to their political talking points.

        May 21, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  76. FL Mom

    To those individuals who continue making comments about the tests being in Spanish, please shut up. Knowing two languages (or more) is now vital to most major corporations as they do business worldwide. Not everyone in FL speaks Spanish. The FCAT system has been flawed for many years, but standardized testing in most states still has a long way to go. Parents need to remember to play an active role in their child's education to make up for the flaws in the system, which includes turning off the internet and television and having your children read. Learning is an ongoing process and parents and teachers need to work hand in hand.

    May 21, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • Elliott Dunnit

      With all due respect, I think you're missing the point. Today's kids get their information in a different way. It's all about video. Somehow, somewhere, the love for literature has disappeared in the modern world. It may not mean as much, however, as people are afraid that it does. The means of disseminating information and doing business will simply adapt. Although those who do truly master the written word will be in a position to garner more respect and money and power, ultimately. I thank my mother for encouraging me to read and write at an early age. The temptations to exploit the illiterate increase every day, too ...

      May 21, 2012 at 11:01 am |
      • shjnj

        it's not only usa's problem, it's problem of the world.power of money. inpiration with poem & novel was dissappeared.

        May 21, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • Simon Edwards

      Yes, FL Mom people should Know two languages but most most major corporations are not located in Mexico or any other spanish speaking area. They should learn Chinese not spanish and of course English.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  77. GI Joe

    Teaching to the test - which was introduced by W a long time ago - does NOT work. Never has.

    May 21, 2012 at 10:38 am |
  78. Max

    This article is inaccurate. The at grade level score used to be 3.5 and was raised to 4 this year. The author made it sound as if its always been 4. After this year's fiasco, the board decided to lower the at grade level (for this year only) to 3. Florida believes that if you just raise the bar, then magically everyone will just do better. I can personally attest to the hard work my children and their teachers have put into getting ready for the FCAT. Working harder isn't the answer.

    May 21, 2012 at 10:37 am |
  79. Cambridge Ray

    justin, The Archetypal Conservative wrote: "Breakdown in marriage and family life."

    Speaking of which...

    When it comes to child abuse and molestation, specially of their own, the GOP politicians have a Guinness World Record.

    http://www. republican6offenders. com/ (replace the number "6" with the obvious 3 letters)

    You are cordially invited to Google each case in the list above. I dare you to produce an equivalent list composed of liberal politicos.

    May 21, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  80. mslisac363

    teacher can't teach more than kids want to learn... It's time to lay blame at home with the parents and kids... Teachers can teach all day but if your child is not willing to learn what can they do. Kids don't do home work, leave books at school... Who's problem is it really... I'm sure the teachers hate to some kids showing up everyday.

    May 21, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  81. Ted Ward

    HIgh stakes testing? You'd think it was a crime or something. SAT's are high stakes tests and we've been using them for decades. A driver's test is high stakes also, it keeps people from getting killed. Not everybody passes all tests but they are necessary and at some point there has to be proof of learning and a test is how that is done. Some people just want to pass the buck and the students on to the next level so they are not held accountable. The students suffer in the end, because by the time they get to the SAT, it's way too late. The phrase "high stakes testing" is just a scare tactic for those who are scared of being held accountable. For the unions, any test at all is "hight stakes" because it will just hold them accountable for their own failure. Life is a high stakes test. The sooner the kids realize and deal with that the better off they will be. At least then they'll know what they are really up against. Of course, it appears that their union controlled teachers are completely incapable of that kind of integrity. And that's the way the union wants it. Hide everything behind the poor innocent teachers who are the pawns in the union's power game. In the end the kids and the country pay a terrible price for the union's greed.

    May 21, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Leila

      The fact of the matter is that students cannot WRITE. They cannot communicate intelligently. They don't know how to speak properly and professionally. They would be hard pressed to speak in front of an audience, such as a city council, to an employer, etc. They cannot articulate a persuasive argument. This is disconcerting. We are sending them out there as uneducated, illiterate, bumbling fools. I favor writing, reading, vocabulary development, and public speech and presentation. Teach them to have some dignity in their demeanor, to be respected, to be prepared to fight with eloquence of speech rather than with foul language. Take a walk through some of the classrooms and hallways of our schools and just listen to the speech of our kids.

      May 21, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  82. TheGarderner

    I don't know other places but in my city, school never really prepare to teach children to write from early stage. All the sudden the state expects student to know how to write? I remember my kids are told to read. They read. But hardly ever they bring home a writing assignment. Last but not least, teachers tend to be far more "subjective" than "objective" when teaching and evaluating students' ability to write, and that is not GOOD. Writing is the utmost beautiful and beneficial form of language.

    May 21, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Snod123

      Wow, from reading your post, I don't think the school system or the test is the problem.

      May 21, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  83. Cambridge Ray

    This is in reference to some of the comments:

    One wonders: Which is the party where hatred is most concentrated and distilled?

    The only ones qualified to make an statement are the victims of prejudice, persecution and racism themselves. Let's ask them, shall we?

    Here's their response:

    – Black folks voted for Obama, by a 98% margin.
    – Jewish folks voted for Obama, by a 75% margin.
    – Hispanic folks voted for Obama, by a 66% margin.
    – Oriental folks voted for Obama, by a 63% margin (Orient of Asia).
    – Gay folks voted for Obama, by an unknown margin.

    ps: Oh, I almost forgot the largest minority of all:

    http://patriot. net/~ramon/misc/GOP-Hates-Women-and-Feeling-is-Mutual. jpg
    http://www. usatoday. com/news/politics/story/2012-04-01/swing-states-poll/53930684/1
    (remove the spaces)

    May 21, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Dp


      May 21, 2012 at 10:31 am |
  84. Leila

    "...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".

    Neither teachers nor students were prepared? Teachers??? This really embarrasses me as an educator. Teachers should always go into their classrooms and curricula fully prepared to dish out HIGH standards irrespective of what the state or school district mandates. My step children live in Florida with their mother. Trying to assist them on their homework is a nightmare. Unbelievable how low the standards are for high school. Very little emphasis on vocabulary or syntax. Very little critical thinking.

    May 21, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  85. Dani

    If teachers only teach what is on the test, then of course if the test changes suddenly the scores will drop. How about teaching a practical education instead? I live in Florida, work in the educaiton and mental health systems, and see evidence of the "education" these kids are receiving. I absolutely will homeschool my child because of it.

    May 21, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  86. Dp

    They left out that the only people who are benefiting from all of this are the companies who make a fortune developing these tests and the multiple layers of bureaucracy needed by school districts to administer the tests. Here is a novel idea: Cut out all of the insane testing and administrators, give the principals control over the school, and let the teachers teach. If the teacher is a bad teacher, then the principal should be able to fire the teacher rather than having to go through layers of union rules.

    May 21, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • Tim

      Well if you give control of education to the principals, you will only see more of what Florida did in this case. Most of their students didn't meet the grade level benchmark so they just lowered the benchmark. I've been in the education field most of my life and of all the schools I have worked at, I have found that principals and other school officials DO NOT care about the students' education. They only care about making the numbers the states and government want to see. I agree that standardized testing doesn't truly reveal a student's intelligence or potential but it does serve to hold schools accountable for educating their students.

      May 21, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • 2km N of Ground Zero

      Question for Dp:
      What if the Principal is a bad leader? In New York Mayor Bloomberg et al. decided on a political formula for figuring out whether Principals were good or not. I agree with you in theory, but for all of the other posters who decry standardized testing, we need it to provide a an objective measure. Current trends in standardized testing (at least in NY) attempting to align with the common core standards show an increasing sophistication (certainly more of a challenge for kids and teachers) but all of our schools are communities of learning, so everyone ought to be learning all of the time. Sorry...I rambled on so long I hijacked your original post...

      May 21, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  87. Papabearvvv

    Teachers uninformed! Students uninformed!
    Florida! Traditional Republican state for years and it shows.
    And the dummies keep begging for more!

    May 21, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • Dp

      This goes beyond parties. Both Dems and Reps are pushing standardized testing. The local school districts no longer run the schools because Federal and State agencies are now dictating everything that happens in the classroom. Traditional Dem states do the exact same thing. Look at NY where they cannot even fire grossly negligent teachers. Instead, they pay them to do nothing by sitting in so called rubber rooms. Get rid of the unions, federal and state bureaucracies, and put the control back into the hands of the local school districts.

      May 21, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • ABBFLA

      You're wrong about FL. The dems are much more in control of school boards and the like.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:26 am |
  88. FL Momma

    One question for educators... While you were teaching my children to take the FCAT test, why would you not also teach them to spell correctly, or to understand punctuation? I fought repeatedly with my daughters 2nd and 3rd grade teachers years ago about teaching phonetic spelling and correct sentence structure. I was told it wasn’t important at that age, we no longer grade on those areas! REALLY? Is this not the foundational years where the base for all other learning placed?

    That was 16 yrs. ago. Why are you surprised now. BTW – I took my daughter out of public school her Jr. year and we homeschooled through graduation. She was struggling with a section of the FCAT (math) she had repeated “intervention” classes to the point that she wasn’t able to complete other elements required for graduation. After a year and a half at home she tested fine and graduated with her class. Had I left her in their care she would have failed… The system has been broken for a long time!

    May 21, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • Florida Teacher

      Because our hands are tied by the government!!! We'd love to teach spelling, grammar, and punctuation. But the government has told us that it's not important (until this year). Stop blaming the teachers, and demand that the legislators do something CONSTRUCTIVE to fix public education.

      May 21, 2012 at 10:42 am |
      • FL Momma

        @FloridaTeacher – I try to make a trip to Tallahassee at least every other year to sit with our elected officials. The purpose of my visits are to speak out/up against the standardized testing for multiple reasons. My surprise over the tests was the fact that these elements have not been scored in the past as it's part of the whole... If you can't spell or understand punctuation how does one understand what they have read?

        I also have a 10 year old special needs child who attends a public charter for Autistic individuals. There are 100 students who attend this school and only 6 are able to test. Yes, we are held to the same testing as typical students even though my son can't speak, much less read or write... I would like to see groups like his school be exempt from the standardized tests. It’s not fair to my son or typical children to have his group pull down the scores of the whole. But this is another fight all together best saved for another day…

        Working with my son has taught me a lot about the way people learn. You have to learn the small steps in order to grasp the bigger concept. If teaching reading comprehension would not the logical steps be to teach correct spelling and grammar first?

        May 21, 2012 at 11:12 am |
  89. justin

    Hmmm. Interesting headlines this morning. Drop in academic test scores despite increasing educational budgets. More people on government assistance then ever before. Breakdown in marriage and family life. The productive segment of society is now a minority. No space program to replace aging sattelites. Hope and change? Yeah right,

    May 21, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • FL Momma

      @justin – The systems been broken for more than 3.5 years now, try about 20+ years. Don't give us your political "banners" trying to place this at the feet of the Obama admin. This mentality is a HUGE part of the problem.

      May 21, 2012 at 10:17 am |
      • Cambridge Ray

        "This mentality is a HUGE part of the problem."

        FL Momma: What that far conservative fellow (aka, hater) is trying to do is called: "self-fulfilling prophesy".

        May 21, 2012 at 10:28 am |
      • Ed L

        Our students may not do so well in adding and subtracting, let alone the difficult function of dividing, nor do they know anything of history, etc., and or perhaps many will struggle to read their diplomas, but they are doing great in social studies. Poissibly better than students in other countries.

        May 21, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Cambridge Ray

      justin: "The productive segment of society is now a minority."

      One can't help but wonder whether you are aware of the long-term, irreparable, permanent damage you are inflicting to the Republican Party.

      May 21, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • Nicole

      Justin: "the productive segment of society?" Really? If I were you, I would pick up a book and learn the difference between "THAN" and "THEN" instead of displaying how much of an ignorant prejudiced pig you are.

      May 21, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  90. robert mcgraw

    The person writing/editing the article, ironically, needs a lesson in proper word usage. "Over" is a spatial concept and should not be used when speaking about numbers. "More then" would be the proper usage. Young people learn by examples.

    May 21, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Cambridge Ray

      This dictionary disagrees with you:

      http://dictionary. reference. com/browse/over-

      May 21, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • Leila

      You mean "more THAN", not more THEN....

      May 21, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Dan

      Speaking of examples, maybe you want to differentiate between "more then" and "more than".

      May 21, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Heid Theba

      * more than

      May 21, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  91. Chris

    I teach high school math here in Florida. Apparently, about a month before the exam they changed the scoring system for this test. Had they informed the teachers of these intended changes at the *BEGINNING* of the school year, they could have better prepared their students.

    May 21, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • ya no

      Perhaps teaching math skills rather than test preparation would be more effective.

      May 21, 2012 at 10:15 am |
      • Chris

        The way Florida has decided to evaluate math scores is a whole different story, at least at the secondary level. We used to have a test the students took in grade 10. FCAT math. Subject matter included Algebra 1 and Geometry topics. The state has since decided to give students one exam at the end of their Algebra 1 course, and one exam at the end of their Geomtery course. Geometry is now also a graduation requirement.

        The problem is that these new tests are computer based. And due to the limited number of computer labs on campus, students are basically taking their FINAL exams for a course 1 month before the end of the school year. We as math teachers are struggling to finish the course material a month earlier. We're stuck rushing through topics and never having the time to teach with any real depth. You also run into the issue of what to do with the students for the month after they have taken their "End of Course" (EOC) exams.

        May 21, 2012 at 10:26 am |
      • John

        Not going to happen as long as the only measure of teacher effectiveness is a test score.

        May 21, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • FL Momma

      @chris, why would teachers need a heads up on teaching spelling and grammar? That's part of what children should be learning, correct? I'm not jumping on you, you follow the program laid out. But as a parent it's troubling. I took my daughter out of school her Jr. year and homeschooled in order for her graduate. She struggled with math and had so many intervention classes that she couldn't complete other required courses in time to walk with her class if left in school. No one on campus cared – she brought their overall score down and they were glad to get rid of her...

      May 21, 2012 at 10:25 am |
      • Chris

        @FL momma

        In my opinion, spelling and grammar probably should have been a part of the test from the beginning. But for multiple years, it had no effect on the score. And teachers teach to the test. It's part of our performance evaluation. Your students score well and you get a bonus. They score average and you don't. They score poorly and you go on probation. So we as teachers look at the test, look at how the scoreboard keeps score, and we emphasize the things that raise scores.

        Again, I'm math so much of this is 2nd hand for me. But if they told me that the exam kids took for Geometry was 90% dealing with circles and 10% dealing with right triangles, I'm probably going spend the majority of my time covering circles when we do exam review.

        May 21, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  92. pozin

    Maybe if they were given books written in English rather than Spanish they would have done better.

    May 21, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • Jay

      You mean "more than." You use "then" when talking about time, and "than" in comparisons.

      May 21, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  93. Karen

    I teach at a community college in the Northeast. I have been teaching for 10 years and have noticed a steep decline in students' ability to read ordinary, college-level material. No, it will not do to point the finger at testing and suggest there are problems with the types of tests given. Students simply do not read enough on the elementary and secondary level. Testing reflects that reality. The solution is not to revise tests or teach to tests. We need to have our young people read more. As for Florida, I have had a number of students in my classes from Florida. Mine is a small sample, but maybe telling. The Florida students I have taught have had problems reading text and primary source material for my courses. It has been a consistent pattern.

    May 21, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • Peanut

      Karen, while I don't teach my sister is a professor and he experience has been the same. Kids come out of high school and removed from their proctors, tutors, double checks and coaching are just a step above incoherent in their writing.

      My daily job includes a very heavy correspondence via e-mail and at least 1/3 of the people out there have no grasp on written form of communication in their native language. A pet peeve of mine is people sitting in front of a keyboard for literally decades yet can't type. How is that even possible? I simply lower my head, sigh, and continue to serve their requests amazed they are in often powerful positions.

      May 21, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  94. Tim

    The dramatic drop in writing skills means that the teachers WERE teaching to the test (Thank you No Child Left Behind). This allows a child to flourish. I wish the kids all the best.

    May 21, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • UhYeaOk

      Or in all probability, they cheated on last years exam by altering answers. It has been done countless times in the past.

      May 21, 2012 at 10:07 am |
      • Chris

        Previously, neither grammar nor spelling were counted against the student. The student was graded on the "structure" of the essay. This year, one month before the exam they announced that spelling and grammar would affect the score.

        May 21, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  95. SMJ

    Nice comments from people who don't have a CLUE (insert sarcasm). I am a fourth-grade teacher in Florida who has always had successful test results. Mine were better than average this year, too, but the problem was a CHANGE in the testing rubric. The government FAILED to communicate these changes to the teachers/students. If you want to blame anyone, don't blame teachers or the union...blame the idiots in Tallahassee!! On the other hand, Floridians did elect Rick Scott as Governor, so we really might be Flori-DUH after all (insert sarcasm again).

    May 21, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • UhYeaOk

      Drops in scores that big can't be blamed on a change in procedures/tests. In all probablility, last years scores were somehow inflated, this years scores are probably much more accurate.

      May 21, 2012 at 10:08 am |
      • Lobbyistgrl

        Your ignorance is showing. You obviously don't know anything about the FCAT and how rigorous and flawed that entire test is.

        May 21, 2012 at 10:28 am |
      • Ed L

        The lad in the picture may have done better if he had used the other end of his pencil.

        May 21, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Rob

      Sorry but blaming the government is an excuse for POOR teaching.

      May 21, 2012 at 10:24 am |
      • Lobbyistgrl

        The government is forcing this very rigorous and flawed test onto teachers and students causing failing grades and drop out rates to sore within the State. Meanwhile, companies like Harcourt and McMillan, are hiring people with not a lick of education experience to grade this types of tests and paying them millions a year to make the tests even harder and more flawed. So, yeah. Government is at fault.

        May 21, 2012 at 10:33 am |
      • Florida Teacher

        Really? Then why don't you give it a try?

        May 21, 2012 at 10:45 am |
      • Ed L

        Teaching might be better if teachers were given four month vacations instead of three.

        May 21, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • NextGenKin

      I went to public schools my entire life in Hillsborough County (one of the largest school systems in Florida and the country) and I was in eighth grade when the school board was piloting the FCAT. Teachers placed more emphasis on the students getting a passing grade than actually teaching the students. It's not the teachers' fault because there is so much pressure on them to have their students pass so their school looks good (and receives more funding). If their students fail it reflects poorly on them. It's a bunch of B.S. Tragically, in the end, the students suffer.

      May 21, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • Thinks2010

      Either a person can read and write well or they can't. What changes made in the tests do you feel yielded such drastic changes in the scores? Are the tests no longer in alignment with age appropriate achievement for each grade level and a curriculum that supports that or are they now actually in alignment for the first time and pointing to weakness in the system, the teaching, or student (and parent) dedication?

      What do you think?

      May 21, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  96. Mr. Saturn (The Black Cube)

    Maybe the test should be in Spanish?!?

    May 21, 2012 at 9:46 am |
  97. FRANKO12

    Not surprising california and florida have become part of the big cesspool that was once the great United States and is no longer. Doesnt surprise my at all!!! Garbage people in garbage people out!!!

    May 21, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • Florida Boy

      And where do you live, Frank?? You've just proven there's garbage everywhere! The largest piece of garbage in Florida is the Governor, Dick Snott!!

      May 21, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • Thinks2010

      If you think the United States is a "big cesspool", what are you doing to change that besides making disparaging generalities about people and places?

      May 21, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  98. Jeb

    "The dramatic drop in writing scores shows that the system is a failure," said Andy Ford, president of the Florida Education Association." Ah a union doesn't want students evaluated. That is a shock.

    May 21, 2012 at 9:41 am |
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