Is standardized testing putting too much pressure on teachers, students?

Are FSA's putting too much pressure on teachers?
Posted at 7:56 PM, Jan 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-12 19:56:30-05

Was the pressure too much? That’s the question many parents are wondering after learning two Palm Beach County teachers are getting fired, accused of helping their students with the answers during last year’s Florida Standard Assessments, or the FSA’s.

One teacher is from Citrus Cove Elementary in Boynton Beach. The other is from Melaleuca Elementary in West Palm Beach.

“The system puts a great deal of pressure on both groups.” said Kathi Gundlach, president of the Classroom Teachers Association in Palm Beach County. 

While she could not comment about these specific teachers, she says it’s no secret these exams cause too much stress.

“We shouldn’t worry all year long about testing and what our students are going to do; we need to worry about learning," said Gundlach.

For the students, the test could determine whether they get moved up to the next grade.

And for teachers, the test scores are worth 33 percent of a teacher’s evaluation, which determines his or her salary.

“We have to be accountable for what we do, but we need to look at a system that is more fair," said Gundlach.

Both teachers have denied the claims and still have a chance to appeal the termination.

However, some parents say, if it is true, it’s just another example of why they say the test puts too much pressure on both the kids and the teachers.

Palm Beach County mom Joy Kastanias is part of Opt Out Palm Beach County, a group of parents who tell their kids not to take FSA’s for variety of reasons, including the stress and the impact the testing has on student learning.

“High stakes testing has caused a toxic environment for both the students and the teachers who are now focused more on what the score is going to be than the actual material that they’re learning in class.”

Some parents say they also wonder how much of this was the teacher trying to help kids who were truly in need of instruction or direction.

The teachers will have 15 days to appeal. Otherwise, they will be officially terminated on February 3.

We could not reach either teacher for comment, and the School district says it doesn’t comment on personnel issues.