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Superintendent Carvalho Weighs In On State Standardized Testing

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Miami-Dade County Public Schools sent a message to the state they don't want extreme testing anymore.

With over-whelming support from the school board, the district agreed to ask the state for a review of standardized testing.

Click here to watch the report. 

"I think that we have a lot of opportunity here, especially on an election year to make some changes at the state level....and I think there's a lot of districts who are also faced with this burden of test creation," said District 6 board member Raquel Regalado.

Wednesday's action was spurred by Miami-Dade Public School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho who wrote an op-ed piece with CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald asking the state to re-consider all the testing.

In the piece, Carvalho urged common sense when it comes to testing.

Carvalho said measuring achievement is essential to a successful public school system, but a program developed through an "irresponsible and uninformed" process carries potentially dire consequences.

"First, we need to recognize that assessment, as a legitimate tool of accountability, exists only to inform and improve the teaching and learning process. Its use beyond that most legitimate purpose lends itself to misinterpretation of results, erroneous conclusions, perversion of the system itself, and potential harm to students, teachers, schools, and communities. These potentially unintended consequences are accentuated further when the accountability system itself is not inclusive of factors that intuitively and scientifically influence student and teacher performance."

He urged the state to delay implementation of the testing programs tied to the Common Core standards, until they can undergo a thorough, impartial review.

"We should take time to honestly reassess previous and recent decisions and their consequences. We must have the courage to proceed on a path that is student- and teacher-centric, a path that excludes politics, influence, ignorance and extremism."

Carvalho also laid out a plan of action he would like to see the state take when formulating testing standards. Among the items that he said the state should address:

The impact of an "inflexible and flawed federal educational policy" on state educational standards.

"Policy that demands, among many other requirements, equal application of egregious consequences on fragile student populations from the Englishlanguage learners, who are assessed well before they are able to decode in English, to children with disabilities regardless of severity of the disability itself. To that end, we support the Governor's and the Commissioner's efforts to have the ESEA waiver appealed by allowing additional flexibility in regards to these learners."

Statutory timelines.

"In light of what is being decried as a rush to roll out new assessments to comply with statutorily mandated accountability timelines, an additional year of standards implementation should be granted. This will enable sufficient community awareness and understanding as well as optimal statewide professional development of teachers and leaders."

The private contractor hired to implement the testing must have the the experience in educational assessment to do so.

"The state also must demand that all statistical requirements of validity and reliability, inclusive of field-testing sample questions and the whole exam, be performed in Florida with Florida's students – not in non-demographically representative states with homogeneous populations dissimilar from our own. The current field-testing done in Utah does not pass the proverbial smell test sensibility, as item bias determination will never be believable."

The state must abandon its plan to use results of first-ever administration of an exam as a means of generating school grades.

"The measure of performance over time demands comparable data preceding the year in question. That will be impossible in 2014-2015 without statistical perversions as baseline assessment data, which by definition, cannot legitimately be compared to previous performance data."

Read More on Superintendent Alberto Carvalho's Plan Of Action

An analysis by The Miami Herald reveals that on all but eight of the 180 school days in Miami-Dade county this year, some class, some group, some kids, somewhere, are going to take a test instead of receiving instruction. Every class, every course, more than 1,200 of them in Miami-Dade, will undergo testing that will determine if the students pass, if the teacher gets a raise or get fire and if the school stays open.

Miami-Dadeis following the lead of the another Florida school district. Lee county decided to opt out of standardized testing last week.

The district said the constant amount of test-taking was distracting from actual learning. It's also tied into teacher advancement and job security.

Lee County changed it's mind after the state threatened to take its funding away and make high school diplomas from Lee County invalid.

In response to all that, Miami-Dade superintendent wrote the opinion piece  asking the state for a sensible solution. He agreed that testing was necessary and important, but should help education, not get in the way of it.

"I think we need to recognize that there is too much testing going on. I've been saying it for a long time," said Carvalho. "Assessment is important but we need to re frame the issue about how many, how often, and at what cost?"

The number of federally mandated tests has increased since No Child Left Behind was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2002. While previously students were required to be tested once in elementary, middle and high school, No Child Left Behind requires annual assessments to determine proficiency in math and reading.

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