State Testing- What Is It Good For?

board-361516_960_720What is the point of assessment? Why do our assessment methods make no sense? Why did we make such a mess of education? Why do we allow politicians and corporations to make educational policy and create our assessment? Unfortunately, the answer to all these questions is money (at least in the state of Florida).
In Florida, we have good teachers who work hard all year long for very small pay considering their education and effort. We follow the standards of Common Core, which in itself are benchmarks, standards that serve as a guide what students should learn in each grade. Not a big problem. In most normal countries, this is where control of the state, federal government, and foreign education book publishers, like Pearson, ends.
This year especially, Pearson created assessment, which is computer based exam, comes with a special agenda. This test is unlike anyone has ever seen anywhere in North America or Europe in 5th grade.
Here is an example of a math question for 5th grader.

math 5


One question essentially asks students to make 5 correct answers in effort to get a point on the FSA (Florida State Assessment). As parents and teachers, we are only allowed to see what is given as a (15 question) practice test online. None of us are allowed to see the actual test. This is also unusual practice of secrecy that is new and uncommon.

Essentially, the FSA isn’t only going to be hard for my students who are not used to working on computers. Some students came to 5th grade not knowing how to use a keyboard. The the design of the Florida State Assessment by Pearson claims to require more comprehensive response, but what it really does is sets up children to fail and therefore “prove” that our schools aren’t good, which in turn fuels charter, as well as, funding for Pearson controlled textbooks and testing.

When I went to graduate school, we were told that assessment has to be tied to instruction, otherwise it is invalid. How can we assign instruction to one group and assessment to the other, and never allow either side to communicate? This simply cannot be in the best interest of the children or education.

Finally, the stretch of lost instructional time that is dedicated to pointless FSA prep is time that we never get back to learn something interesting and engaging.

Mrs. Lena, M.Ed – Curriculum & Instruction 

math 4


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