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“Opt Out” Movement in the Balance as Judge Weighs Whether Tests Can Decide 3rd Grade Promotion

| August 23, 2016

The parents of the students involved in the case told their children to “minimally participate” in the Florida Standards Assessment for third grade by filling in their names, breaking the seals on the tests and then refusing to answer any questions.

Flagler’s Third Graders Improve English Skills and Climb to 10th Best in Florida

| May 24, 2016

The proportion of students who scored a 3 or better (out of 5)–that is, students who are proficient in English at their grade level–also improved, from 60 percent to 63 percent.

Some Advances But More Retreats in School District’s Rankings in Science, History and Civics

| June 16, 2015

In grade 5 science, the district’s ranking fell from 28 to 36 in the state, while 8th graders improved their science ranking significantly, from 28 to 15. High school history rankings slipped to 19th, from 8th last year.

Proposal Would Suspend 3rd Grade Test Required For Promotion to 4th Grade This Year

| March 26, 2015

The proposal calls for suspending the language-arts test for 3rd graders until the state’s new Florida Standards Assessments are found to be valid by an independent examination.

Education Commissioner Stewart Joins Calls For Eliminating Some High-Stakes Testing

| February 19, 2015

Stewart recommended that the state get rid of a language-arts test students take in 11th grade, eliminating some final exams and making optional a college readiness test.

Florida Lawmaker Proposes Capping All State and Local Testing at 5% of School Time

| February 3, 2015

The bill would authorize districts to use something other than tests to assess students in some courses, revamp laws tying teachers’ evaluations and pay more closely to student performance.

Senate Appears Ready to Rethink Florida’s Obsession With High-Stakes Testing

| January 7, 2015

With parents complaining about a glut of tests in public schools and the Florida Department of Education investigating how much time students spend on exams, senators appear ready to refocus how the state assesses learning gains.

Flagler Students’ SAT Scores Fall to 10-Year Low; ACT Scores Modestly More Encouraging

| October 9, 2014

The drop was especially pronounced at Flagler Palm Coast High School, where this year’s 259 seniors who took the test scored seven points lower than last year in both reading and writing, and 14 points lower in math. Over five years, FPC’s math score has tumbled 39 points, its reading score 27 points, its writing score 21 points.

Flagler School District Rated B For 2nd Straight Year Despite Seven A-Rated Schools

| July 11, 2014

A-rated schools included Bunnell, Rymfire, Old Kings, Wadsworth and Belle Terre elementaries, along with Indian Trails Middle and Palm Harbor, the charter school that just two years ago was failing. The district will earn several hundred thousand dollars in bonuses.

Flagler Students Post Wide Gains in State Rankings in FCAT Reading, Math and Science

| June 6, 2014

Overall, Flagler students improved their rankings in Florida in 12 categories while dropping back in seven, providing many bright spots but also a few worrisome ones.

Flagler District’s 4th Graders Rank 6th in Writing in Florida, 3rd Graders Rank 10th in Reading

| May 23, 2014

The Flagler County school district had a few results to celebrate as the Department of Education on Friday released FCAT writing scores for 4th, 8th and 10th graders and reading and math scores for third graders.

Common Core and FCAT Replacement Test Leads “Florida Standards” To $220-Million Contract With AIR

| March 17, 2014

The $220 million contract with American Institutes for Research, which has been providing tests for just seven years, will be cheaper than it would have been to go forward with a test developed by a multi-state consortium that Gov. Rick Scott ordered Stewart to back away from last year, according to the Department of Education.

In a 1st, Flagler Requires All Juniors to Take SAT, Raising Concerns About County’s Image If Grades Drop

| February 12, 2014

On February 26, almost 1,000 juniors–double the usual number–will take the SAT at Matanzas and FPC, but School Board member Colleen Conklin worried that the resulting drop in average results may send the wrong message to families and businesses looking to relocate to Flagler County.

First of Three Common Core Public Hearings Brings Out Raucous Partisanship

| October 16, 2013

The hearings were part of Gov. Rick Scott’s plan for dealing with the politically volatile issue. Scott has already begun distancing the state from a consortium developing tests for Common Core, and has suggested the hearing could come up with ways to amend the academic benchmarks.

In Political Balancing Act, Scott Pulls Out of Testing Group But Preserves Common Core

| September 23, 2013

By withdrawing from just the testing partnership, Scott’s decision Monday was more of a political balancing act than either a radical departure from Florida’s Common Core policy adopted in 2010 or a repudiation of the tougher standards that have been rolling out in schools through FCAT 2.0 for the past three years, in preparation for Common Core.

Pam Stewart Appointed Education Commissioner Amid Common Core Strife

| September 18, 2013

Pam Stewart’s appointment came amid jockeying over the future of education in Florida and rumors that Gov. Rick Scott will soon issue an executive order on schools, possibly dealing with whether the state will go along with a common-core related multi-state test aimed at measuring new, national standards for learning.

Latest Education Scandal Buoys Critics Of High-Stakes Testing as Scott Scrambles

| August 5, 2013

Critics of the state’s education policies are seizing on serial resignations in the education commissioner’s seat, arguing that the problem is less the person on the job than the state’s accountability system. Tony Bennett was a strong supporter of that system, adding a twist of irony to his resignation in the wake of reports that he tweaked the Indiana school report card formulas to help a school founded by a political contributor.

Florida Education Commissioner Bennett Changed School Grading System in Indiana to Benefit a Donor

| July 29, 2013

Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett and his then-Indiana employees “frantically overhauled” Indiana’s school-grading system last year (just as Florida’s was last year and this year) when it looked like one of his political contributors’ schools might get a “C,” the Associated Press reported.

Most Flagler Schools’ Grades Drop, Following State Trend, As Tougher Standards Kick In

| July 26, 2013

In Flagler County, not a single school saw its grade improve and five fell back a grade, though two maintained their A rating: Indian Trails Middle School and Belle Terre Elementary. Grades would have been worse had the state Board of Education not agreed to artificially prop them up, limiting grade drops to a maximum of one letter grade.

Fail-Safe: Education Commissioner Recommends Artificial Prop-Up of School Grades

| July 15, 2013

Education Commissioner Tony Bennett will ask the State Board of Education next week to prevent schools from dropping by more than one letter grade on the state report card in an effort to counter what superintendents say could be an alarming drop in grades.

Fearing Another School Grade Collapse Across Florida, Education Board Looks for a Plan

| June 18, 2013

With preliminary calculations showing a possible collapse in the grades for schools across the state, the State Board of Education is asking the Education Commissioner to appoint a task force to examine the test scores used to calculate the grades and avoid another botched rollout.

Feedback Failures: When Flashing a Grade Devalues Students and Teachers

| April 9, 2013

JoAnn Nahirny views giving feedback to students as one of the most valuable and important things she does as a teacher. Too bad FCAT graders don’t do likewise. Nor does the teacher evaluation process.

Florida’s Two-Faced Feedback to Teachers: Do as We Say, Not As We Fail to Do

| March 17, 2013

The Florida Department of Education expects its teachers to give immediate and detailed feedback to students on all work, yet the state will take three months to produce FCAT results, and it will do so without one iota of feedback other than a grade. Jo Ann Nahirny explores the hypocrisy.

What an Ode to Farting, Drug-Dealing’s Benefits and the FCAT Have in Common

| January 27, 2013

A Matanzas High School student who wrote a humorous essay on the health benefits of drug-dealing was threatened with a referral, though his teacher gave him a near-top grade: Jo Ann Nahirny explains how FCAT rewards dull, stupid and bad writing at the expense of creativity.

Matanzas High School Is an A School Again, FPC Maintains B, Heritage Gets 3rd F in a Row

| December 21, 2012

The much-anticipated high school grades are in, with Matanzas High School getting the second A in seven years, after three years as a B school, and FPC maintaining its B for the third straight year. Now-closed Heritage, a charter, got what would have been the third successive F.

Education Department Shrugs Off Major Errors in Florida’s Science FCAT Test Guidelines

| December 20, 2012

Scientist Robert Krampf’s analysis of FCAT science test guidelines to be a collection of poorly written examples, multiple-choice questions where one or more of the wrong responses were actually scientifically correct answers, and definitions that ranged from misleading to totally wrong. State officials seemed unconcerned.

Flagler’s SAT Scores Tumble to Lowest Level in at Least 8 Years as Florida’s Improve

| September 24, 2012

The declines some of them steep, took place in all categories–reading, math, writing–at both Flagler Palm Coast High School and Matanzas High School, with one exception in reading at Matanzas.

Dogged By FCAT Failures, Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson Resigns After 13 Months

| August 1, 2012

Robinson resigned late Tuesday amid a months-long controversy over the state’s testing regimen and errors on school grades that forced the department to change the marks for dozens of schools.

Bucking State Trend, Flagler School Grades Stay Strong, But So Does Criticism

| July 11, 2012

All but one Flagler County public or charter school scored an A or a B. The exception was Palm Harbor Academy, a charter, which scored an F. The state’s teachers union cautioned against making much of the results absent a more reliable testing system.

With Few Flagler Exceptions, Reading, Math and Science FCAT Scores Drop for Most Schools

| June 5, 2012

As reading and math scores improved statewide in most grades, despite tougher standards, Flagler County students lost ground over last year’s results, and struggled to keep up with state averages.

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