TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
The Board of Education decided in an emergency meeting Tuesday to lower the passing grade on the writing portion of Florida’s standardized test after preliminary results showed a drastic drop in student passing scores.
The results indicated only about a third of students would pass this year’s tougher Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test exam, compared with a passing rate of 80 percent or more last year.
“They’ve asked students to do more, but that’s pretty dramatic,” said Florida Education Association spokesman Mark Pudlow. “We need to examine what led to this, not just paper over the problem.”
“Our students must know how to read and write, and our education system must be able to measure and benchmark their progress so we can set clear education goals,” said Gov. Rick Scott in a statement Monday. “The significant contrast in this year’s writing scores is an obvious indication that the Department of Education needs to review the issue and recommend an action plan so that our schools, parents, teachers and students have a clear understanding of the results.”
Results on the FCAT are the major factor for determining grades the state uses to reward top schools and sanction those at the bottom of the spectrum.
This is the first year students and schools will be assessed on the basis of tougher tests and scoring systems, expecting to result in more students failing the FCAT and lower school grades.
The board, though, agreed at its regular meeting last week not to let any school drop more than one letter grade this year to help them adjust to the rigorous new standards.
The writing exam was made more difficult by increasing expectations for proper punctuation, capitalization, spelling and sentence structure. The board also increased the passing grade from 3.5 to 4 on scale of zero to 6.
The preliminary results show only 27 percent of fourth-graders received a passing score compared with 81 percent last year.
For eighth-graders it was 33 percent — down from 82 percent in 2011. For 10th-graders it was 38 percent — a drop from 80 percent last year.
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The lower passing score is expected to increase the number of students passing the exam to 48 percent for fourth grade, 52 percent for eighth grade and 60 percent for 10th grade, still well below last year’s results.
“This incident again demonstrates that Florida school grades reflect profoundly political decisions, not objective measures of teaching and learning,” said spokesman for FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing in Jamaica Plain, Mass, Bob Schaeffer, in an email. “How can a measure which fluctuates from 81 percent to 27 percent ‘proficient’ in just one year even meet the laugh test?”
The Department of Education’s notice for the proposed emergency rule says when the board approved the scoring changes it “did not have, and could not have had, impact data” that would show how those revisions would affect the results. It adds that the preliminary results now indicate “the heightened scoring rules may have unforeseen adverse impacts on school grades.”
School grades factor into such decisions as closing low-performing schools or making faculty and administrative changes. Lower rated schools also lower the property values in the community.
Officials in some school districts have been preparing parents for bad FCAT news by sending letters home with students explaining that the tests have become more difficult to pass.
Other officials are pushing back.
School boards in Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties have passed a resolution against what they say is an over-reliance on high-stakes testing. Board members say the exams reduce time devoted to teaching and put unhealthy stress on students.
The resolution asks the state to develop a new assessment system that relies less on standardized testing and urges the federal government to reduce testing requirements in the No Child Left Behind Act.
Florida is among nearly a dozen states that have received a waiver from No Child Left Behind. State education officials, though, say the waiver still requires high testing standards.
The Florida resolution is similar to one that 438 Texas school boards have signed. FairTest and other groups initiated the resolutions.
THE INTENTIONAL DUMBING DOWN OF AMERICA
By Samuel L. Blumenfeld
Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt’s new book, “The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America,” is without doubt one of the most important publishing events in the annals of American education in the last one hundred years. John Dewey’s “School and Society,” published in 1899, set American education on its course to socialism. Rudolf Flesch’s “Why Johnny Can’t Read,” published in 1955, informed American parents that there was something terribly wrong with the way the schools were teaching children to read, and my own book, “NEA: Trojan Horse in American Education,” published in 1984, explained in great detail how and why the decline in public education was taking place.
But Iserbyt has done what no one else wanted or could do. She has put together the most formidable and practical compilation of documentation describing the well-planned “deliberate dumbing down” of American children by their education system. Anyone who has had any lingering hope that what the educators have been doing is a result of error, accident, or stupidity will be shocked by the way American social engineers have systematically gone about destroying the intellect of millions of American children for the purpose of leading the American people into a socialist world government controlled by behavioral and social scientists.
This mammoth book is the size of a large city phone book: 462 pages of documentation; 205 pages of appendices; and a 48-page Index. The documentation is “A Chronological Paper Trail” which starts with the Sowing of the Seeds in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, proceeds to The Turning of the Tides, then to The Troubling Thirties, The Fomentation of the forties and fifties, The Sick Sixties, The Serious Seventies, The “Effective” Eighties, and finally, the Noxious Nineties. The educators and social engineers indict themselves with their own words.
Iserbyt decided to compile this book because, as a “resister” to what is going on in American education, she was being constantly told that she was taking things out of context. The book, she writes, “was put together primarily to satisfy my own need to see the various components which led to the dumbing down of the United States of America assembled in chronological order—in writing. Even I, who had observed these weird activities taking place at all levels of government, was reluctant to accept a malicious intent behind each individual, chronological activity or innovation, unless I could connect it with other, similar activities taking place at other times.”
And that is what this book does. It connects educators, social engineers, planners, government grants, federal and state agencies, billion-dollar foundations, think tanks, universities, research projects, policy organizations, etc., showing how they have worked together to advance an agenda that will change America from a free republic to a socialist state.
What is so mind boggling is that all of this is being financed by the American people themselves through their own taxes. In other words, the American people are underwriting the destruction of their own freedom and way of life by lavishly financing through federal and state grants the very social scientists who are undermining our national sovereignty and preparing our children to become the dumbed-down vassals of the new world order.
One of the interesting insights revealed by these documents is how the social engineers use a deliberately created education “crisis” to move their agenda forward by offering radical reforms that are sold to the public as fixing the crisis—which they never do. The new reforms simply set the stage for the next crisis, which provides the pretext for the next move forward. This is the dialectical process at work, a process our behavioral engineers have learned to use very effectively. Its success depends on the ability of the “change agents” to continually deceive the public, which tends to believe any lie the experts tell them.
Iserbyt’s long journey to becoming a “resister,” started in 1973 when her son, a fourth grader, brought home from school a purple ditto sheet, embellished with a smiley face, entitled “All About Me.” She writes: “The questions were highly personal; so much so that they encouraged my son to lie, since he didn’t want to ‘spill the beans’ about his mother, father and brother. The purpose of such a questionnaire was to find out the student’s state of mind, how he felt, what he liked and disliked, and what his values were. With this knowledge it would be easier for the government school to modify his values and behavior at will—without, of course, the student’s knowledge or his parents’ consent.”
From that time on, Iserbyt became an activist in education. She became a member of a philosophy committee for a school, was elected as a school board member, co-founded Guardians of Education for Maine (GEM), and finally became senior policy advisor in the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI) of the U.S. Department of Education during President Reagan’s first term of office.
As a school board member she learned that in American education, the end justifies the means. “Our change agent superintendent,” she writes, “was more at home with a lie than he was with the truth.” Whatever good she accomplished while on the school board was tossed out two weeks after she left office.
It was during her tenure in the Department of Education in Washington, where she had access to the grant proposals from change agents, that she came to the conclusion that what was happening in American education was the result of a concerted effort on the part of numerous individuals and organizations—a globalist elite—to bring about permanent changes in America’s body politic. She was relieved of her duties after leaking an important technology grant—a computer-assisted instruction proposal—to the press.
Another reason why Iserbyt decided to publish this book is because of the reluctance of Americans to face unpleasant truths about their government educators. She wants parents to have access to the kinds of documents that were only circulated among the change agent educators themselves. She wants parents to see for themselves what has been planned for their children and the kind of socialist-fascist world their children will have to live in if we do nothing to counter these plans.
Therefore, getting this book into the hands of thousands of Americans ought to be a major project for lovers of liberty in the year 2000. It will do more to defeat the change agents than anything else I can think of.
Samuel L. Blumenfeld is the author of eight books on education, including “Is Public Education Necessary?” and “The Whole Language/OBE Fraud,” published by The Paradigm Company, 208-322-4440. His reading instruction program, “Alpha-Phonics,” is available by writing The Tutoring Company, P.O. Box 540111, Waltham, MA 02454-0111. www.alpha-phonics.com www.howtotutor.com
- Dramatic drop in preliminary FCAT writing scores (local10.com)
- Letter: Changing FCAT passing grades because results were unsatisfactory is ludicrous (tcpalm.com)
- Florida schools won’t be held accountable for low FCAT writing scores (jacksonville.com)
- Standardized Testing: More Harm Than Good (progressivepress.net)