In the state of Florida, teachers often find themselves grumbling about their school administrators’ ambiguity about what has become known as “teaching to the test.” This is ironic because administrators generally frown upon teachers practicing standardized testing methodologies with their students.
Florida teachers, and perhaps this extends to instructors across the country, have been placed in an unenviable position because of the state’s reliance on standardized tests as a measurement of their students’ success. On the one hand, teachers are discouraged from spending too much time with the students during which they practice for any given test, and on the other, their job depends on the successful outcome of these very same tests. This is where the inclusion of EOCs or End of Course exams comes in. Teachers are being placed in a more challenging, results-driven environment.
Florida Standardized Testing
In addition to the ACT, SAT, AP, and FCAT assessments, Florida public schools are now also moving to what are known as EOCs or End of Course exams. These EOCs must be passed if a student is to earn credit for completing a course. Previously, the EOCs were assigned to courses such as algebra and history, but they will now be mandated across the curriculum. This will place a heavier burden on teachers and students alike.
Florida Teacher Evaluation(s)
Appurtenant, teacher’s will be evaluated based on how high their students’ EOC passage rates are in addition to the preexisting criteria. In these sorts of instances, teachers will be placed under considerable pressure to change their methods. Taking ownership for teaching multiple classrooms comprised of students of varying linguistic and analytical aptitudes is one thing, while inheriting matriculating students that may not be in a position to pass these tests may be a completely separate quagmire.
The ideal situation for all parties involved is one in which teachers of any subject, be it science, history, math, English, music, art, or the foreign languages, will teach students the fundamentals to provide a solid foundation upon which to build. However, during a calendar school year there are multiple vacation days, testing days, and school assemblies or functions. Instructional time is always at a premium. A teacher must find a way to scaffold, to incorporate all aspects of a subject, and to offer expert test preparation for their students simultaneously.
Teaching to the Test?
Teaching to the test is a hackneyed expression but its meaning remains the same and it is powerful. Stripping away the layers of a teacher’s individual contributions to a classroom has been an undercurrent that has existed in education for many years. Designating teachers as test preparatory facilitators seems to be the direction in which education in the state of Florida is headed. Ultimately, EOCs may provide a measure of proof validating student achievement, but the gray area between educator efficacy and student passage rates is about to grow exponentially. It is anyone’s prognostication as to what the numbers will indicate.
For more information about the Florida EOC tests please visit the Florida Department of Education’s official EOC page.