29 05 2007

The next step in the ongoing struggle with our state’s standardized test —

Florida Coalition for Assessment Reform, Inc.

for further information:
Gloria Pipkin 850 265-6438
cell: 850 866-9537
or Bob Schaeffer 239 395-6773

for immediate release, Tuesday, May 28, 2007

The Florida Coalition for Assessment Reform (FCAR) today delivered to Florida Governor Charlie Crist and Education Commissioner Jeanine Blomberg a set of recommendations to implement “the administration’s pledge of openness and transparency in reviewing the FCAT in the wake of the recent disclosure of the 2006 Grade Three scoring error.”

Commissioner Blomberg has indicated that a review will take place but has not provided details about who will conduct the investigation, what topics it will cover, when it will be completed, or whether the results will be made public.

In an open letter, FCAR said, “The powerful impact of the FCAT on our children, our schools, and our communities demands strict accountability to the public” and listed suggestions including:

– hearings around the state to determine the scope of questions Floridians want addressed;

– inclusion of representatives from groups such as FCAR and the Florida League of Women Voters in the FCAT review process;

– input from independent measurement experts as well as teachers, parents and school counselors;

– investigation of all recent FCAT scores, not just the 2006 exam where the state admits an error was made; and

– publication of relevant documents about how the FCAT is designed, constructed and administered, including the exam’s technical manual

FCAR is a non-profit, non-partisan, statewide organization with members in 50 of Florida’s school districts.

– – 30 –

The text of the FCAR letter to Gov. Crist and Commissioner Blomberg follows

– – – – –


May 28, 2007

Dear Governor Crist and Commissioner Blomberg:

The Florida Coalition for Assessment Reform (FCAR) applauds the administration’s pledge of openness and transparency in reviewing the FCAT in the wake of the recent disclosure of the 2006 Grade Three scoring error. The powerful impact of the FCAT on our children, our schools, and our communities demands strict accountability to the public.

In that spirit, we ask you to consider these comments and suggestions:

– The review process should begin with public hearings around the state, at convenient times and places, to help determine the scope of questions Florida parents, educators, and taxpayers want addressed.

– The audit team should include representatives from FCAR, as well as representatives of the Florida League of Women Voters, which has recently launched a study of the FCAT, and other concerned organizations throughout the state

– The team should seek input from teachers, parents, school counselors, and other child advocates, along with independent psychometricians.

– The investigation should go beyond the 2006 test, thoroughly examining the validity, reliability, and fairness of the FCAT and its uses.

– As part of upholding a pledge of openness and transparency, all critical documents about the FCAT (such as the technical manual) should be made available online and in libraries so that everyone concerned can understand how the test is designed, administered, and graded.

FCAR is a nonprofit organization with members and contacts in more than fifty school districts. We are committed to open, broad-based, constructive assessment that reflects the complexity of learning and respects the diversity of learners.

We look forward to hearing from you as you convene an external advisory group this week, at which time we will be pleased to submit the names of testing experts to review the data from 2006 and recommend a procedure for establishing an annual review of the test.


Gloria Pipkin, President
for the FCAR Board of Directors

850 265-6438 — www



One response

29 05 2007

“Education Ecology Has Its Own Climate Crisis”:

. . . More than education ABOUT the environment, I’m now pondering education AS environment — I’m wondering how healthy our ecology of “education” is, and whether we’ve acted with sufficient care and concern for the health impact of artificial learning environments, the ones in which we bind children — culturally, economically, legally — for many years of forced systemic exposure?
I am worried about the toxic effects on humans of institutional school systems.

After Abu Ghirab, a Stanford psychologist detailed how “place” can win over “person” through concepts like institutionalization, escalating dehumanization, stress and stereotyping, the seduction of boredom, the evil of inaction and much more. Sounds too much like what’s gone wrong between school and education — we’ve institutionalized thinking and learning and productive work, and lost the individuals we meant to inspire and empower in the process.

So I can’t help focusing on all the ways Thinking Parents can create healthier education environments for ourselves, for our own children and families, for our neighbors and communities. I’ve been struck at almost every stop by the connections, how the ideas and information are the same and how opening your eyes to one can open your mind to the other.
. . . I believe it’s possible, important, perhaps critical, that we begin to understand education and environment as symbiotic.
For just one small example, homeschooling mom Meredith at Violet Voices hosted THK Wednesday and reports her very sensible caution to moms about the hundreds of individual substances choking our children’s environment, and even worse, interacting in harmful ways we can’t detect and thus can’t hope to prevent or control. . .

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