March 25, 2010

In better news, bipartisan bill passes Florida Senate reforming high school testing

In addition to Senate Bill 6, the Senate also passed an amended form of Senate Bill 4, which moves the state's high school testing program away from comprehensive exams in 10th and 11th grade and towards end-of-course (EOC) exams. Senators from both parties finally "get it" that the so-called comprehensive science exam was counterproductive, and a well-implemented EOC exam system is significantly better than the one-size-fits-none eleventh-grade test. But that doesn't mean the bill is perfect: FSU physics professor Paul Cottle has been diligent in explaining his concerns with dilatory clauses placed in the bill that eliminate any deadlines for physical-science exams.

It's important to keep in mind that only part of the purpose of these exams is to encourage students to go into STEM fields, though it's important to raise the floor of science courses students take in part to reduce inequalities in access to lab-based courses. The purpose of pushing all students to take more math and science courses is because they are going to be adults when they leave, citizens who vote on issues where they should be informed. I want elementary-school teachers to have stronger math and science backgrounds, and so should you. I'd like someone in charge of a venture fund or pension fund to be able to recognize fraudulent science claims without wasting other people's money. And when my oldest nephew finishes his graduate program in astrophysics, I want a ready source of groupies fanatics educated readers willing to pay oodles of money for listen to him to talk about microwave inferometers and the early universe.

Okay, maybe the last isn't a public purpose. But the rest is. We all benefit when high school students have a well-rounded academic education not only in "skills" such as reading and arithmetic but in history, literature, math, and science, and moving from the FCAT to EOC exams is the right step.

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Posted in Accountability Frankenstein on March 25, 2010 10:26 AM |