LEE COUNTY, Fla.- WINK News is looking for answers about a major testing controversy in Lee County schools.
Wednesday night in an historic move, the school board voted to opt out of standardized testing from the state. WINK News is looking into what it means for student grades, their graduation, and their futures.
The school board does have the power to reverse their decision. But according to board member Don Armstrong, who led the push for opting out, that won't happen.
The first question is what happens to students' grade point averages?
WINK News is learning, according to the superintendent, 30 percent of middle and high school student grades are based on those high-stakes standardized tests.
"Don't be concerned. Don't be worried about that. Instead be worried the state coming in and trying to tell you who your child is," said Armstrong.
Bottom line: the school board tells WINK News it doesn't have an answer yet for the grading issue. But Superintendent Dr. Nancy Graham says nothing changes in the classroom. "It is business as usual, in the classroom, they have been expected to teach to the standards. We want our children to master those standards," she said.
What about state funding? Lee County schools recieved millions last year for administering those tests. That money could now be in jeopardy, according to Dr. Graham. "I'm not saying that's going to happen. But that's potential. All of is up for grabs," Dr. Graham said.
"She is looking at the worst possible scenario," said Armstrong.
Again: no final answer on the money issue.
Another question is what happens to potentially thousands of dollars in grant money which is based on standardized test scores. Does that mean: no tests no money?
"Many of them are tied to assessments. If we say 'we're sorry, we can only give you last year's because we don't have any more of that' we won't even quality to apply," said Dr. Graham.
"We could potentially loose grant money, but Race to the Top money, grant money, they are talking about? It's all gone. We don't have it. Its been spent," said Armstrong.
Finally, what about teacher merit pay and evaluations? Currently, portions are based on the results of those standardized tests.
"It won't impact it. How could it impact negotiations with teachers?" said Armstrong.
But like those other factors we told you about, there's still no final answer about how teachers pay and evaluations will be affected. Dr. Graham says she's working on finding those answers and will talk about them at next month's board meeting.
Students looking to graduate this year must take either the SAT or ACT and get a sufficient score to graduate. But the school district didn't tell us what a sufficient score is, as of yet.