I am a teacher in Florida.
Today, during spring break, a friend and colleague encouraged me to log into my school email and read a letter from our FL Commissioner of Education, Pam Stewart.
Her letters tend to come wrapped in much controversy, so I took the plunge and opened the email. Here is her letter below. I will reserve judgement, except to share a few info links below the letter (to give it a frame of reference, ya know).
I am assuming sharing is allowable as our Commissioner’s communication department preempted the letter with the words: “We encourage you to share this information with your colleagues and your students’ families.”
So, here is me sharing. What do you think?
I have already heard from one parent who responded with links re the Gates connection. See links below Commissioner Stewart’s letter:
Dear Florida Educators:
Thank you for all you are doing to prepare Florida students for success in the classroom and beyond. Please see Commissioner Stewart’s letter to teachers regarding Florida’s new statewide assessment at http://www.fldoe.org/pdf/CommissionersMessageTeachers3-17-14.pdf.
We encourage you to share this information with your colleagues and your students’ families.
Sincerely, The Office of Communications and External Affairs
Full text below.
MESSAGE TO TEACHERS FROM COMMISSIONER PAM STEWART
I know that this has been an exciting time for all of us involved in education and especially for those of you who are devoting each and every day to helping prepare Florida children for success in college, career and in life. Your work has resulted in improved student performance in so many areas and in Florida becoming a national model in public education. I cannot thank you enough.
With your input and dedication, we have successfully taken the steps to implement the Florida Standards for mathematics and English language arts for all students. I appreciate the support and excitement so many of you have shown for the new standards, and I have heard from so many of you who are embracing the flexibility in your daily instruction and opportunities for our children to develop more critical and analytical thinking skills.
Building on our history of improving student achievement, we are ready to move forward. With the State Board of Education’s unanimous approval of updates to the Florida Standards in February, I have chosen the not-for-profit American Institutes for Research to provide the new English language arts (ELA) and mathematics assessment, which will be administered in the 2014-15 school year. I am confident that this new assessment is the best decision for Florida’s students. The new assessment will measure each child’s progress and achievement on Florida Standards. With the high quality instruction that you provide, the assessment will help us keep all students on their path to be college and career ready. In his Executive Order, Governor Rick Scott outlined the objectives for this new assessment, and these assessments meet each of those.
I also have heard over and over from teachers that you want tests that provide a more authentic assessment of our students’ grasp of the Florida Standards. These assessments will do that, because they will include more than multiple choice questions. Students will be asked to create graphs, interact with test content and write and respond in different ways than on traditional tests. New question types will assess students’ higher order thinking skills in keeping with the higher expectations of the Florida Standards. Later this spring, students, educators and parents will be able to preview samples of new question types by taking practice tests that will be made available for anyone interested in reviewing them.
I am sure many of you will have questions and will receive many questions from parents and colleagues as well. We have prepared some answers to potential questions. Please feel free to review that document and our press release announcing this decision at http://www.fldoe.org/eduaccsummit.asp.
I am proud to say that the Florida Standards and this new assessment are the result of unprecedented input from teachers, educators and the public. We will continue to work directly with teachers and school districts as we develop this new assessment.
We will also continue to provide information to support your work. Please share this message and encourage your colleagues to email us at email@example.com to continue receiving updates on this and other topics.
I look forward to working with you together on this truly historic effort to help our students succeed. Thank you for all you do.
There you have it. I shared with some close friends immediately.
One parent responded with this information: “From Gates Foundation website…. “Partners include representatives of the following institutions and organizations: American Institutes for Research…”
“We encourage you to share this information with your colleagues and your students’ families.” #TheirWords #DoIt