Another view on Florida’s proposed testing cut scores

NIKKOLAI VITTI

by: Jeffery S. Solochek|Tampa Bay Times

October 2, 2015

When Florida’s superintendents released their recommendations to revise the state education accountability laws, their original proposal relating to testing cut scores was notably absent.

While gone, though, it was far from forgotten.

As preliminary test results became public, Duval County superintendent Nikolai Vitti, who once headed the state accountability system, made clear in several public statements his disdain for the state’s plan to increase proficiency cut scores.

He called it a betrayal of the position that many educators reluctantly accepted in 2011-12, when the state last increased FCAT cut scores. At that time, then-commissioner Gerard Robinson made the case that pushing the scores upward would help prepare students, parents and educators for the inevitable performance declines that would come when Florida moved to tougher Common Core-based tests a few years down the road.

“Now it seems as if everyone has had amnesia as to what the rationale was back then,” Vitti told the Gradebook.

By raising the cut scores again now, he said, there would be no way to tell if students or schools are performing better or worse than before. If the bar remained the same, he contended, the public could see whether children made progress or not, even as the test materials and questions got harder.

The new “random” cut scores, devised after children have tested, would essentially manufacture low performance, Vitti suggested. He called the effort disrespectful to public education — something that hard-working children and teachers don’t deserve.

“Not only are we burning out, but to what end?” he said. “Are we waking up every day in order to not be an F? Is that what this is really all about?”

The State Board of Education is expected to act on cut scores in January. It has called for even higher marks than commissioner Pam Stewart has put forth.

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