By JESSICA BAKEMAN | WUFS Public Media | June 2, 2020
Florida’s largest teachers union wants to suspend state exams and evaluations of school and teacher performance as part of a larger plan for how to reopen schools during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Florida Education Association has long been critical of the state’s two-decade-old accountability system, which uses student test scores and other measures to assign letter grades to schools and labels like “effective” or “highly effective” to teachers.
Union president Fedrick Ingram said tying high stakes to tests is inappropriate now, since educators expect many students to fall behind academically due to unequal access to educational resources after schools closed in mid-March to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Ingram, who is the former president of United Teachers of Dade, said during a virtual press conference Tuesday that students will need extra help to recover, especially those who have struggled under this spring’s shift to online learning because of technology or language barriers.
“The only way that we can catch our students up is time to teach, is time on task … time to isolate the problems, identify those problems and fix whatever regression that our students have had,” Ingram said. “We can’t do that with the pressures of a test. We can’t do that with the pressures of a school grade.”
The state suspended testing and froze school grades for this academic year, after the abrupt and bumpy shift to online learning.