After a Decade of NCLB and Florida Test Madness...

After a decade of No Child Left Behind, where the total focus was on standardized testing and FCAT, after test-crazed govs Bush and Scott, after millions spent on Michelle Rhee's consulting and $250 million more to NCS Pearson to administer and score the FCAT through the end of 2013.

Florida's writing scores plummeted once again.

Passing scores in eighth grade fell from 82 percent to 33 percent. Tenth graders taking the test saw a similar drop in success. While 80 percent passed the test last year, only 38 percent scored a 4 or above on a 6-point scale this time

Students can be retained in third grade if they don’t pass their FCAT. They will be denied high school graduation if they don’t pass their FCAT. For the first time ever, 50 percent of teachers’ evaluations will be based on student FCAT scores. Two out of three negative (or two negative in a row) mean the unemployment line. As of 2014, the scores will also determine pay. Schools will, as always, be assigned a letter grade based on student FCAT performance — only now the test is harder and the proficiency scores are higher, meaning hundreds of schools in Miami-Dade County alone expect to drop as much as two letter grades. -- Miami Herald

So the reformers brain storm and come up with this great idea to solve the problem. Hey, let's just lower the required passing score 4.0 to 3.5; a reduction that would dramatically increase the number of students having passing scores. Brilliant!

Under the lower standards, 48 percent of fourth graders, 52 percent of eighth graders and 60 percent of 10th graders would have passed the test. Though improved, the passing percentage is still at least 20 points lower than 2011 scores. --

Here's an even better idea. Why not stop all the testing madnes and let the teachers teach writing. So crazy it just might work. 

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Mike Klonsky

Mike Klonsky is an educator, writer, school reform activist, and director of the Small Schools Workshop (