A pioneer program for testing pupil's competence was sharply criticized yesterday for not providing youngsters with new ways to learn before measuring their skills.
An evaluation of the 2-year-old Florida program, the first statewide effort to measure minimum competence, was released at the opening of the 116th annual meeting of the National Education Association, which commissioned the study.
To insure that students reach a certain level of achievement before being promoted or graduated, the State Department of Education administers tests of basic skills in grades 3, 5, 8 and 11, and a controversial "11th Grade Test of Functional Literacy."
Although the intent was praiseworthy, the NEA report said, the program is ineffective because it relies on testing as a first step toward improving education instead of using the tests to measure results of an improved educational program.
Also, "It appears as if the current class of 11th graders who are black and poor were sacrificed for the purpose of rapid implementation of the functional literacy segment "of the 1976 lw, the study concluded "The implementation . . . should have taken into account the special problems of minority children and should have worked out a procedure for helping them learn more adequately before subjecting them to the humiliation of being labeled 'functional illiterates'."