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We need better teachers, not newly-revised testing procedures

caines | 3/15/2012, 5 a.m.

Once again parents, teachers and community activists took that long ride to Tallahassee to tell members of the State Board of Education that the latest proposal for how state schools would be graded was unsatisfactory. After speakers pointed out how the change would have resulted in a significant increase in unnecessary failures and more inner city schools being converted into for-profit charter schools, Education Commissioner Robinson and his crew agreed to revise the plan. Everyone seems to have an opinion, including our own Governor Rick Scott, as to how schools should be graded. But how much do we really help students, no matter what their color, by using seemingly arbitrary formulas that send a message to already disadvantaged schools and students that they are perennial failures? Should we have standardized tests? Yes, in fact they have been part of the public education process for generations. The tragic change in recent educational philosophy has been to insert tests that take the place of year-long evaluations and to rely on the former as a means of assessing the proficiency of students. Why dont we allow those who are trained and certified to educate our youth and spend an entire year with them in the classroom, serve as the final arbiter on whether students are ready to move on or not? Teachers. Our focus should be on ensuring that we have competent teachers in every classroom and then allow them to do their job. Those who dont measure up should be sent packing. That way, educators can help students learn how to think critically rather than how to pass a test.