Almost 100 Polk Co. educators fail state exam

When kids go back to school at Kathleen High School, they will have a new head football coach.

"It’s hard,” Irving Strickland told FOX 13. “Now I am facing the fact that there are young men that I gotta tell that I am not going to be around anymore. ”

Strickland was let go because he failed a test that the state requires all teachers to pass.

Ninety-four other teachers in Polk County flunked it, as well.

“It is always concerning when we have employees that are going to be terminated as a result of not passing an exam,” said Annissa Wilfalk, the district’s director of recruitment and educator quality.

The exam tests general knowledge. There are sections on math, English, and reading. Teachers also have to write an essay.

Strickland says he takes responsibility for his situation. His mother recently passed after battling cancer and he was distracted.

He was not concerned as much as he should have been over the testing deadline. 

“It is a lot of pressure knowing if I don’t pass this test, I might not have a job,” Strickland said.

Wilfalk says the district tries to help teachers who don’t make the grade by offering them a staff or substitute teacher position. It also offers tutoring so they can re-take the exam.

As for Strickland, he says he is going spend a little time chilling out.

“Other than that, doing what my mom taught me to do, pray and leave it in God’s hands,” he said. “I know I’ll be working with kids somewhere, somehow.”