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Florida lowers standards, blames teachers

 Florida got its state test results back and decided yesterday to lower its standards for writing.

Check out this news clip from an Orlando local news station.

In our current climate, this story is not new. It goes like this:

  1. Public officials bemoan the quality of public schools and demand that schools raise standards.
  2. Teachers make adjustments to their curriculum, often teaching directly to the tests.
  3. Students take the tests and sometimes don’t perform well.
  4. Public officials lower the standards, let the students pass, and then blame the teachers for doing a bad job.
  5. Repeat from Step 1.

One of the strongest arguments being made right now in educational reform is that non-educators should be leading the way. After all, the argument goes, if something is broken, we shouldn’t rely on the people who broke it to fix it.

While I understand that theory, it also doesn’t make sense for non-teachers to make large pronouncements about education and then blame teachers for failure.

I do not have a problem with someone telling me that I need to do better. I already know that. But it’s not OK to talk big and serious about standards and then backpedal when the results come back lower than what you want. And please, let’s stop blaming teachers. It’s just not effective. 

2 comments

  1. cindy

    I find it interesting that they would present this problem but yet not ask a single teacher what their take is on the on the situation. It troubles me that they are allowed to report a story that is of great concern and not be upset that the school board does not have any answers. Where is the passion in journalism, and where is the passion in the school system?

    Also, letting the students dictate the standard could be likened to changing the curriculum. This time they complain about grammar not being taught, but still pass 3/4 of failing students. Is it possible that next year grammar is changed to texting grammar? With the lack of respect for rules, anything seems possible.

    Honestly, where is the dignity of the school system? For shame.

  2. Mark Isero

    Cindy, you’re right about the low quality of journalism demonstrated by this local TV station. Local TV never goes in depth, which leaves us wondering.

    This example of a state agency “getting tough” on standards and then relaxing them is not new. California has done it, too. I wish that there would be more people who would tell the truth. Often, those people are teachers, who are not usually invited into the conversation, as you note.

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