Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Florida FCAT Cut Score Lesson: High Stakes Accountability is About Politics Not Learning

Don’t believe the hype and the lies: High stakes accountability in our schools is not about improving student achievement, helping students, or improving outcomes for families living in our communities. High stakes testing has always been since its inception, and continues to be, a campaign by politicians ill-informed about education and learning to obtain and maintain political power. The two minute video, “The FCAT Show : Florida’s decision to lower the passing score on the 2012 FCAT,” is a student-produced video highlighting the shameful decision of the Florida Board of Education last year to simply raise the student “cut score” (passing score) to make it appear that more students know how to write well.

Unfortunately, actions like these by Florida’s Board of Education are not limited to Florida. Here in Oklahoma, our state leaders have “massaged” cut scores in the past to prevent similar situations when student results were lower than politicians wanted. Our current state leaders in Oklahoma have developed an “A-F Report Card” for schools which is based on fickle and arbitrary metrics purported to reflect “educational quality.” High stakes testing and accountability does not improve schools: Instead it promotes cultures of fear-based education and drives away precisely the kinds of creative, out-of-the box thinkers we need to transform our schools into 21st century learning centers in our communities. The number one thing we need to improve our schools is high quality personnel. Professional educators in the classroom and in positions of administrative leadership are the “silver bullet” for authentically improving education and learning. Unfortunately, many state leaders don’t understand this YET.

This FCAT video was produced by Tea’a Taylor, who was a senior last year at Freedom High School in Orange County, Florida. Patriot Productions is the high school television and video production program where Tea’a polished her videography skills. Check out more work by Tea’a on Valerie Strauss’s May 2012 post for the Washington Post, “Student video: How high-stakes tests affect kids” and on C-SPAN’s StudentCam 2012 competition winners page. Tea’s video is titled, “Eighteen.”

H/T to Nutmug Education for sharing this video link.

For more background, see “Florida Writing Tests Set Off Alarms; State Board Sets New Cut Score” on EdWeek from May 2012.

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