To say the past year has been tough for our students, families, teachers and school staff is an understatement. The pandemic has brought about uncertainty, inconsistency and disruption to our school environment. Teachers and students have adjusted to shifting learning environments, new technology, ongoing quarantines, and a myriad of understandable social and emotional concerns.
High stakes placed on standardized tests add to this existing burden and produce even more anxiety. ACCPTA is advocating at the state and district level that all high stakes decisions be removed from standardized tests given in Spring 2021.
The following letter was sent to the Alachua County School Board and school district leadership:
The mission of PTA’s everywhere is to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children.
Florida PTA and ACCPTA are advocating at the state level that schools, teachers and students be held harmless from state-level consequences associated with the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) in Spring 2021. This includes student grade progression, teacher evaluations, school grades, and minimum testing requirements for schools. Our primary reasons are as follows:
- This has been an extremely difficult and unprecedented year for our students, teachers, school staff and families. Due to the pandemic, the delivery of education has been met with inconsistency, barriers, and challenges, resulting in an uneven playing field.
- During times like this, student and education staff mental health is just as important as academic progress. Alleviating the high stakes and punitive accountability placed on the FSA would minimize anxiety and stress on students, educators, other school staff and families.
We are aware of the value of utilizing progress monitoring as a means of identifying gaps and allocating resources. We do not oppose the use of assessments to improve learning and evaluate where additional supports are needed. Our concern is with the additional high stakes placed on tests, especially in the midst of a pandemic.
In Alachua County, families are concerned about the state-initiated high stakes, as well as with the ways the district and local schools typically use standardized test scores (including the FSA and AIMS tests). ACCPTA’s goal is to ensure that physical and mental health and safety of all children is highest priority in local decisions, and that assessments are used in the most equitable way possible with consideration for unique circumstances. With that in mind, we appeal to the Alachua County School District, middle, and high schools, to remove all high stakes attached to this year’s standardized test scores, including but not limited to:
- Middle and high school magnet program admission.
- Class placement in middle and high school.
We believe that eliminating all high stakes will minimize pressure as well as social and emotional concerns for Alachua County students during a time when students and teachers are under an unusual amount of pressure. We appreciate the consideration of the district and local schools.