It is that time of year again. It is time for school to start. The first day of school for Broward County Public School students and teachers is Monday, August 18. For parents, this means helping their children to get ready early in the morning and making sure the homework gets done.
And for students and teachers, it means a new and more demanding form of evaluation. In the past, students have to show they were ready to move forward in education by successfully passing the Florida Comprehensive Assessment known as the FCAT. Now they will have to take a somewhat more demanding test known as the Florida Standards Assessment or FSA. This test will measure students critical thinking skills and determine whether or not they have fully understood the test questions. This new test will also be more related to a new initiative in education known as Common Core. This also means that the writing portion of the test will be part of the English assessment. Students will have to pass the tenth grade Florida Standards Assessment to earn a high school diploma. And the performance of students on the test will be factored into teacher evaluations and the overall evaluations of schools, according to the Broward County School District website.
"I never have been comfortable with using a standardized test to evaluate the progress of teachers and students. I think there are many factors that determine whether or not a student is really learning or whether or not a teacher is doing a good job. I just don't think it is right to base so much of a teacher's performance evaluation on how their students do on a test," said Bridgette Sharp.
"The problem with using a test to evaluate how a student or teacher is doing is that there are so many factors into why students learn or don't learn. Maybe the student is not feeling well. Maybe the student does not like school. Or maybe the student understands the material better than others. There are just so many reasons for why students do well or don't do well on tests," said Carolyn Masters.
"I think we need to have some way of assessing whether not students are really learning the material and whether or not teachers are effective. No standardized test is perfect but I think all students and teachers should be held accountable for their work," said Robert Branson.