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Politics

Poll: Parents Give Standardized Tests 'F' Grade

February 24, 2015 - 6:00pm

Outcry against standardized testing seems to grow louder and louder by the day. Teachers, educators and school board members have banded together against tests supposed to measure students academic achievements. But some of the loudest voices and strongest opponents against high-stakes testing are some of those closest to tests: parents themselves.

A new Rasmussen Reports survey released Wednesday found a large number of parents give standardized testing a flunking grade.

Sixty percent of respondents said they think theres too much emphasis on standardized testing in schools these days.

Only 17 percent of adults said there wasnt enough emphasis on testing in schools, while nearly the same amount (16 percent) said the emphasis was just right.

Whats more, parents also feel theres too great an emphasis on teaching to the test as a result of standardized testing -- 69 percent said said there was too great an emphasis on this concept while a significantly smaller amount (13 percent) disagreed.

Those who feel theres too much testing arent alone -- in Florida, just last week, Gov. Rick Scott and Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart said they also thought Floridas schools were saturated in assessment tests.

Stewart led the Florida Department of Educations investigation into the states standardized testing process for several months. They took a closer look at the number, purpose and frequency of tests throughout the state.

Stewarts conclusion: there is an excess of testing in Florida schools.

The debate has only intensified in recent months, culminating in Scott signing an executive order to suspend an English-language arts assessment test for Florida 11th-graders.

As I have traveled the state, I have heard from parents and teachers that there are too many tests and I agree, said Scott, who said this week he hopes legislators will join in on plans to repeal the law authorizing the Florida Standards Assessment.

Some parents and school districts have fought back against testing by trying to remove their children from the process entirely. The opt out option has become increasingly more appealing to parents who simply dont want their kids participating in assessment tests.

That issue is much more divisive than too much testing, says the Rasmussen Reports poll. Only 35 percent of respondents say parents should be able to have their children opt out of testing while closer to half (46 percent) say parents should not be able to pull their children out of the testing process.

Just last August, the Lee County School Board voted to opt out of testing -- a vote which caused commotion and controversy to ripple throughout the state. Legislators expressed concerns over pulling students out of the process.

"I'm all about bold, innovative thinking. But at the same time, I don't want us to do something without a plan in place," said Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, R-Fort Myers, last year. "Testing is high-stakes, life is high-stakes."

State education officials are not ready to join the opt out crowd, either. In a letter to legislators last month, Stewart stood firm by state law which "requires students to participate in the state assessment system. Therefore, there is no opt out clause or process for students to opt out or for parents to opt their children out of standardized testing.

Testing will undoubtedly arise as an issue during this years legislative session, though its unclear whether legislators will work to repeal it. The 2015 legislative session begins March 3.


Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen by email at allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen
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