Sunday, February 3, 2013

Super Bowl Sunday

When Americans sit down  to watch Super Bowl tonight, they will watch players who are ready to play with a set of rules that hasn't changed overnight. When these players step onto the field, they will be well prepared. They have studied film footage. They have access to resources such as the best trainers and the best equipment to prepare them for the big game.   They will have all resources they need to give a peak performance for the game of their lives.  

They rested well--- knowing that when they woke up this morning to play, nothing about the game changed in the midst of their preparation.  In fact, they and most every single viewer will have an understanding of the purpose of the game, the rules and what defines a winner.  They will not find that the length of the field has increased  They will not find that the ball has changed shape. They will not find that the referees are making calls using a different set of rules.  On any given Super Bowl Sunday, either team can win, because they are prepared for the most important game of their lives.  

On any given Monday, this is not the case for students in American public schools, especially students who are caught up in the trap of high stakes testing. Last week in Florida, the Department of Assessment  released another rule change for juniors who are already halfway through their playing season. Instead of an 18 on ACT, they now must have a 19.  Many juniors took the FCAT in October and some of them have taken ACT already passing in their mind with what the state of Florida deemed  to be the old concordant score of 18. Some students like the junior featured in this article will discover that they didn't actually pass.  

On Monday morning someone will have to tell students and their parents that their child is still on track to receive a certificate of completion rather than a high school diploma. This information was released to superintendents on Thursday, January 31st. You can read what superintendents received here.  It is easy to make decisions about people when they aren't sitting right in front of you.  The consequences don't seem that dire when you are considering numbers rather than individuals. It's just one point. Not only is this a major game-changer that the juniors will face, but teachers face incredible challenges preparing students for the big game.  

Teachers, students, and parents have not even seen the test that students are given. We have continued to prepare for players for a game without adequate resources and a level playing field while aiming for a moving target.  This decision is exceedingly unfair and the playing field is skewed. If this happened at the Super Bowl rather than in public schools, people would be outraged and there would be extensive media coverage.  

As I grappled with this information on Friday, I wondered what I should do. I not only needed to tell teachers, but students too.  


  1. Unbelievable! I think about coming back all of the time, and then things like this happen and I'm reminded that I might not want to deal with these things. You're right - it is exceedingly unfair.

    1. It spite of the odds, we are able to do good work! Imagine the outcome if the odds were better!

  2. Great comparison. This is important writing you are doing. If education is going to be the mechanism that lifts people out of poverty and moves our country in positive directions economically, politically and culturally then we need to quit creating a service-class with high stakes tests in Florida (and elsewhere).

    1. My fear is how little the public knows about all the changes and the impact on their children!


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