FADSS assigns Statewide Writing Prompt


The 2015 rollout of the computer based writing portion of the Florida State Assessment (FSA) was a disaster. Students had trouble logging in, entire essays were lost, some students were logged out in the middle of their assessment and asked to complete the writing assignment on a different day… some districts had to completely suspend test administration for days. The Math and Reading portions of the computer based FSA didn’t go much smoother. Parents across the state are still waiting for the final results of these exams. Frustrated and angry, parents and educators wondered how valid and reliable results could be obtained from such a fiasco.  The Department of Education and Florida’s legislature seem to be blindly moving ahead, after the results of a controversial summer validity study. Parents are less convinced by the reported results.

The Florida Association of District School Superintendents (FADSS), representing all 67 Florida Counties, has responded to growing concerns with two press releases (9/25/15 and 9/30/15) and a state-wide writing assignment:

FADSS is calling on every Florida parent and taxpayer to write to the State Board of Education, the Commissioner of Education and the Florida Legislature, to join the superintendents in expressing their vote of No Confidence in today’s Florida Accountabaloney system and to call for a complete rebuilding of the hopelessly flawed Accountability system.

Dr. Desmond Blackburn, Superintendent of Brevard County Public Schools,  further defined the assignment in an informative video issued this week  (view it here). Dr. Blackburn explains why Florida’s Superintendents have given the current ‪#‎accountabaloney‬ system a “Complete vote of NO confidence.” Regarding the results of the  2015 FSA, he states, “they are not, in our opinion, valid enough to create consequences for any person or group of people.” He asked the assessments not be allowed “to hurt one child, one community, one teacher, one principal…”

Dr. Blackburn explains that Florida’s superintendents believe accountability is necessary but the current Florida system is flawed. In other words, as we’ve said before, everyone wants accountability but in Florida we get #accountabaloney.

“We can continue to slowly tweak a very, very flawed system or we can start over again.” Dr Blackburn recommends we “take the time necessary to start all over again, examine the current system from A-Z and build an accountability system that we ALL can believe in,” and we agree completely!

Please support the FADSS opinion and email, write, tweet and call your legislators(find your senator here, your representative here), the Florida Senate Education Committee, Commissioner Pam Stewart, the State Board of Education and Governor Scott. Encourage your local school board members to support these efforts, as well.

Tell them something like this:

I have NO confidence in today’s flawed accountability system. Florida needs to take the time necessary to START ALL OVER AGAIN. We need to examine the current system from A-Z and build an accountability system that we ALL can believe in. The Department of Education should research effective non-test based accountability systems that are known to result in better educational outcomes. Florida needs to re-evaluate the effectiveness of destructive test and punish accountability policies. Statutes that attach high stakes to standardized test scores should be repealed and replaced with less punitive policies. Florida’s parents want appropriate tests used appropriately. It is time to hold law makers and policy makers responsible for our flawed accountability system.

You can, also, use Fund Education Now’s link to contact the Governor and Legislature here.

The Assignment is clear. Demand a do-over. The Due date is now. Write today.


The Coming Accountabaloney Showdown

Get your popcorn ready! The circus is definitely coming to town.  With Florida’s Superintendents stealing the limelight with their united voice of NO confidence, it did not taken long for the Foundation for Excellence in Education to come out with words in support of the flawed accountability system.  Basically, they still think it is the greatest creation since sliced bread, everyone else knows, it’s burnt toast already.  For years it has been rumored that the Bush Foundation, FEE, is basically the one running the show for the FLDOE.  This showdown will solidify whether the FLDOE (Florida Department of Education) and BOE (Board of Education) are independent functioning units or puppets of the Foundation.

On one hand, you have the superintendents who have voiced their concerns regarding the flawed FSA rollout and have, specifically, discussed the inappropriateness of aligning Florida’s proficiency rates to the NAEP proficiency rates.  I believe they called the comparison “Apples to Oranges.” The superintendents plan on attending the next Board of Education meeting, on October 28th, in Kissimmee, in force. (Info about the meeting here). We have already written about the Superintendent’s concerns Here.  Here.

On the other hand, you have the Foundation for Excellence in Education. They are clearly pushing for the elimination of the “honesty gap,” a term they invented last spring, encouraging the BOE to raise the Florida proficiency bar to match NAEP’s. The FEE has been purchasing advertising on social media (as outlined here) and bringing out their “big guns.”

First up was BOE Vice Chair, and advocate of corporate reform, John Padget. He suggested that raising the FSA proficiency bar to match the NAEP scores would feel like a “cold shower” now but later, magically, would result in higher wages. (We’re not convinced but you can read his Op-Ed here).

Today, The FEE published a blog by another Bush disciple, former Education Commissioner John Winn, who helped create Florida’s A-Plus plan under Jeb Bush. You can read his blog here.  Mr. Winn  suggests, were it not for pressure from the Foundation constantly pushing forward towards “excellence”, Florida education would be stagnating. If you believe Mr. Winn, superintendents actually prefer that stagnation…

“But throughout this process, school superintendents have consistently sought to weaken the grading formula or even suspend grades altogether.”

In that regard, it hardly is surprising that the Florida Association of District School Superintendents is calling for a suspension of grades for the recently completed school year. For those of us who have been around a while, it is the same-old, same-old.

I appreciate the hard work by our school districts. And Florida is blessed with some very good superintendents. But had we listened to them in the past, we certainly would have not made the progress that we are witnessing today.

Accountability is hard for adults. The lack of it can be devastating to children, particularly the most disadvantaged.”

The stage is set for the showdown between the Bush Foundation/FLBOE and the rest of the state.

Commissioner Stewart recommended cut score level below the NAEP levels. The direction the FLBOE decides to move in will be very telling.  Will the Board finally listen to the stakeholders or will they puppet the desires of the corporate takeover crowd?  Stay tuned…

Accountabaloney Wall of Fame – Week of September 28

Superintendents Carvalho and Vitti: Thank you for calling out the Accountabaloney!

Accountabaloney would like to thank the superintendents around the state who are standing up for our children and speaking out about the current #accountabaloney in Florida. Today, we commend two superintendents that we feel deserve a place in the Accountabaloney Hall of Fame.


AlbertAccountabalonyHallOfFame_SMALLer_CARVALHOo Carvalho, Superintendent of Miami-Dade Public Schools

In the very same Florida Board of Education meeting, where members of the Florida Board of Education applauded the results of the Alpine Validity study and pushed for not only using scores from the flawed FSA rollout but raising the standards to near impossible levels (promising the chance of higher wages later for taking “a cold shower” today), Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho called the state’s unwillingness to acknowledge its errors “unconscionable.” You can read about it here or here or watch his compelling testimony here.

AccountabalonyHallOfFame_SMALLerVittiDr. Nikolai P. Vitti, Superintendent of Duval Public Schools

In a letter addressed to “Teachers, Principals, and All District Employees”, Dr. Vitti urged everyone to join him in voicing concerns regarding Florida’s flawed Accountability System.

“As an educator, parent, and most importantly, as your superintendent I cannot stand idle or silent while witnessing the blatant disregard and disrespect for what all of you do every day on the behalf of our students. No student, teacher, principal, or school deserves to be labeled as failing based on this flawed process. State officials are manufacturing and ensuring lower performance in the name of “greater accountability and higher standards.” It is time for us to ask the question…to what end is this greater accountability and higher standards? The subtle response appears to be the destruction or shaming of public education.”

Read his letter here or hear him explain #accountabaloney in this interview.

Congratulations Superintendents Carvalho and Vitti!  We applaud your strong leadership in the battle against #accountabaloney!