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Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 07/11/2012

Has Florida governor had a testing epiphany?

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who hasn’t seen a test he hasn’t wanted students to take, seems to have come to some sort of epiphany: The state that has been a national model for high-stakes test-based school reform just may be testing schoolchildren too much.

Speaking to a conference of newspaper editors the other day, Scott said
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (Bill Cotterell/AP)
that state officials had received an unprecedented number of complaints from parents about the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

It is time, he said, to see if Florida students are spending too much time taking standardized tests, not only the FCAT but end-of-course exams and others. He said he is talking to state officials about taking a look at the testing load.

“In the end, I think it’s going to change a lot,” he was quoted as saying by the Associated Press, though it wasn’t exactly clear what he thought would change.

How many standardized tests do Florida public school students actually take?

Wayne Blanton, president of the Florida School Board Association, said recently that most students in the state spend about 38 to 40 days a year out of a 180-day school year “in a testing mode.”

The association decided that was too much and recently approved a resolution asking the state to cut back on standardized testing. That resolution was similar to one passed earlier by more than a dozen school boards in the state, including in Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Pinellas counties.

Anti-testing resolutions are spreading around the country, having started months ago in Texas, where hundreds of school boards have signed on calling for a rethinking of high-stakes testing that is at the heart of school accountability systems.

A national anti-testing resolution was also launched by a coalition of national education, civil rights and parents groups, as well as educators trying to build a broad-based movement against the Obama administration’s test-centric school reform program.

Scott was apparently responding to parents, who he said have called state officials this year with more complaints about high-stakes testing than ever, especially the FCAT.

“Parents and taxpayers expect measurement. We’ve got to measure, we’ve to find out who the best schools are,” Scott was quoted by the Associated Press as saying. “We have to have a good measurement system but we have to make sure we don’t have too much of it.”

Exactly where Scott really thinks testing can be curtailed is unclear. He signed into law legislation that makes 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation based on student standardized test scores. That means there has to be standardized tests in every subject so teachers can be so assessed. This is an issue not unique to Florida.

As testing has been ratcheted up in state after state, a backlash has been growing. It seems to have at least caught the eye of the test-happy Florida governor. That’s something.

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By  |  05:00 AM ET, 07/11/2012

 
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