Study finds Florida's high stakes school tests valid

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Florida's high stakes tests taken by millions of school children are valid according to a new independent study.
But the study released Tuesday by the Department of Education did nothing to quiet criticism from school districts about the Florida Standards Assessment.  The study says the troubled rollout of the test this past spring means that the test scores of some students who took it online "will be suspect."

“That means [the scores] should not be used as a sole factor in making critical decisions...such as promotion or grade eligibility," said Orange County Public Schools Superintendent Barbara Jenkins.

The study said there are no problems with school children who took the test on paper and pencil. Approximately 2.4 million tests were given online this year.  The study found that the Department of Education can use the FSA to assign school grades. Jenkins said it could be December before the school grades are released and warned that districts statewide could see their rankings slip.

"I think it's very important for our general public to understand and initial year of assessment has to be considered a baseline and informational," Jenkins said.

The Florida Association of District School Superintendents pointed out that the study found that some FSA test items were written to measure standards from Utah, which was where the test was written. 

“This anomaly alone is grounds to suspect the validity of the high-stakes test,” according to a written statement distributed by the Organization.

The Florida Association of District School Superintendents said that the study left the organization firm in its belief that “the FSA cannot fairly be used in teacher evaluations or to calculate A-F grades for public schools.”
Tuesday afternoon Seminole County Schools told FOX 35 in a written statement: ”We remain concerned. Our students experienced frustration and a myriad of FSA testing issues that tainted many students' individual outcomes and as a result, aggregate school data.”

The statement, which was attributed to Superintendent Walt Griffin, went on to say that the district would continue to push for an alternative to the FSA.

State legislators ordered the study after there were problems with the administration of the test. The test replaced the Florida Comprehensive Assessment and is based on standards linked to Common Core.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.