Just last week, Gadfly encouraged Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) administrators to buck up, fix the scoring problems that plagued their 2006 reading assessments, and keep the faith (see here). Now Ron Matus, an education reporter for the St. Petersburg Times, offers his own defense of standardized assessments in a thoughtful opinion piece. Through his reporting, Matus has seen high school kids who "for all intents and purposes couldn't write" go on to pass their courses and graduate with ease. A teacher Matus respects once told him that he gave a student--a 17-year-old who was reading at an elementary-school level--a B just for trying. "It's complicated," the instructor said. Such experiences have led Matus to conclude that teachers may not always know best, that grades are often meaningless, and that maybe external tests aren't such a bad thing. They might actually help expose poor student performance and demand some accountability from teachers and school leaders who were, before testing, sometimes willing to let kids slip through the cracks. Well said, Ron.
"FCAT tests us; so what?," by Ron Matus, St. Petersburg Times, June 3, 2007