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Media: Are There *Really* 60-80 Days "Dedicated" To Testing In FLA?

This sentence in a new NYT story about states' responses to concerns about overtesting makes it sound (to me, at least) that Florida schools are testing all kids, all day during almost one out of three days per year: 

In Florida, which tests students more frequently than most other states, many schools this year will dedicate on average 60 to 80 days out of the 180-day school year to standardized testing. In a few districts, tests were scheduled to be given every day to at least some students.  

There's no doubt that testing concerns are on the rise, and testing and test prep practices have gotten out of control in some places where new tests have been added but none have been removed, but still I worry about exaggerations and misunderstandings about the actual amount of testing that's going on.

I'm asking around to see if anyone can verify the number or explain how it was calculated.  Meantime, check out the NYT story States Listen as Parents Give Rampant Testing an F and let us know what you think.

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As a Florida teacher I can tell you that besides the State test which is now given on computers now and so due to limited lab access the schools are locked down in testing mode for 5 weeks or more with disrupted schedules and limited access to the library, outdoor areas and of course to computer labs. With young children these changes in their schedules are very disruptive to the learning environment and so even if we are not testing in our own room that schedule change affects learning everywhere. In addition my district does Bench marks twice a year to prepare for the state test adding another 2 weeks of testing plus end of course exams which take the last 1-2 weeks of school plus the writing test which is administered separately - another 1 to 2 weeks (we are k-8 so because of different testing schedules for elementary and middle we have longer periods of disrupted schedules) plus there are weekly continuous improvement quizzes required and if the kids don't pass them you have to redo them. Add the test prep you do for each of these exams and more time is taken from real learning. It gets worse every year.

I think it comes from:http://oada.dadeschools.net/TestingCalendar/TestingCalendar.asp
I have seen the claim made before. While there is too much testing and it may add up to 80 but this across district not per student.

Hate to say it, but this sounds about right. Admittedly, I haven't counted, and both of the comments above are true. The thing that seems to be especially horrible about our state's testing is that we are trying to do computer-based testing (which has all types of glitches that are a whole 'nother news story entirely). Schools don't have enough computers to test all students the same day or even the same week. This means that scheduling one end-of-course exam for high school geometry, for example, might disrupt the entire tenth grade schedule for about 2 weeks. During this time, all tenth grade teachers can expect to be missing an unpredictable number of students in any one class and/or babysitting the class of another teacher who has been pulled out of the class to supervise the computer-based tests. Then, when we're done, it's time for the algebra EOC exam. Then rinse and repeat for reading, social studies, etc. And of course, there are makeup exams. This starts in late February and goes almost through the end of the school year. Mary, the commenter above, is correct that it's not really 80 days that any given kid is missing, but it makes it almost impossible to build any momentum toward any long-term project that a teacher might want to do at the end of the year, and it guarantees that about a third of the class might miss any given lesson. One additional, charming fact about our computer based exams: even though they are given on separate days, the test questions are the same. The kids sign an "honor pledge" that they won't tell their friends the questions on the test. What could possibly go wrong?

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