Atlanta’s infamous public school cheating scandal sent some educators to jail last year and forced the system to clean up its culture of pressure-driven testing. But after the educators were found guilty of changing tests answers and sentenced, thousands of innocent victims remained: school children.
Parents listen and discuss ideas for opting out of state exams in Leon County. Credit: Lynn Hatter/WFSU
It’s the fifth season of the year in Florida: testing season. Millions of Florida’s public school students, from third grade through 12th, are preparing to take the Florida Standards Assessment. The test has drawn scorn from parents, teachers, school administrators, and even lawmakers—yet it remains the main measure of how schools and districts are graded, kids promoted, and teachers evaluated.
It’s testing season in schools across the South and around the country. Students are flipping open booklets or logging onto computers to answer math and reading questions. For over a decade, annual standardized testing has been the law of the land. But it’s not without controversy or pushback – and some states and school districts are rethinking their approach.
A recent report indicating how well states are doing in preparing K-12 students for the STEM fields rated Louisiana “far below average.” The state by state “Science Readiness Index” takes into consideration not only students’ math and science proficiency scores but also teacher qualifications.
Given thousands of related job openings but only hundreds of computer science college graduates, Alabama is trying to ramp up its computer science education. That includes a new policy allowing those classes to count toward core math graduation requirements. WBHM’s Dan Carsen concludes our series with a visit to a Birmingham-area class that’s leading the way.
Computer coders have found a champion in Florida Senator Jeremy Ring. Ring, a former Yahoo! executive who helped build the company, believes coding and technology is an art, rather than a science. He wants to attract more students to STEM studies. As part of our series, Priming the Pipeline for STEM in the South, Lynn Hatter of WFSU reports on Ring’s proposal to allow Florida students to choose coding in order to fulfill a foreign language requirement for college.
Over the next ten years, the number of jobs in science, technology, engineering and math fields are expected to outpace other industries by about five to ten percent. That’s according to the group Change the Equation, an organization that pushes for greater STEM education in schools. Yet, throughout the South, particularly in rural and high poverty communities, administrators have trouble attracting educators qualified to teach STEM.
Jalen is a seventh-grader at The Good Shepherd School- a private, Catholic institution. She transferred from a failing public school three years ago and sees big differences between the two. Louisiana Public Broadcasting prepared this report for our “Matters of Choice” series.