An Alachua County teacher is refusing to administer a state-mandated test to her students.
In a Facebook post Monday, and in a Gainesville Sun article earlier this week, Lawton Chiles Elementary School kindergarten teacher Susan Bowles publicly announced that she would not give her students the Fair Assessment test.
The computerized test is given to students three times in the school year to predict their literacy. Bowles’ students, who don’t always know how to use a computer, said it could take up to 45 minutes per student.
In a portion of the post, she wrote, “I cannot in good conscience submit to administering this test three times a year, losing six weeks of instruction. There is a good possibility I will be fired.”
“Students [you] must be tested individually on a computer while the teacher is sitting with headphones,” said Judy Black, principal of Lawton Chiles. “Her concern is that the 17 other students in her class do not have her attention and are not getting any education from her at the time that she’s doing this.”
Fair Assessment is one of several standardized tests that the young students take each year.
“It’s test after test after test all year long,” Black said. “They have end-of-course tests. They have fair testing. They have a discover-ed test they give, and these tests have to be given individually on a computer to [with] a 5-year-old. Some 5-year-olds have never had their hand on a mouse before.”
The state now mandates that all kindergartners take the Fair Assessment before Sept. 30, and Black said she will be administering the test to Bowles’ class in her absence.
Some people have taken to Facebook to praise Bowles and offer support.
“I admire her for the stand that she’s taken,” said Karen McCann, president of Alachua County’s Education Association. “I know all the other teachers I’ve talked to feel the same way about it.”
McCann and Black encourage parents who are concerned about this type of testing to reach out to the state legislator for change.
The Fair Assessment has been around since 2009. The Alachua County School Board Human Resource Team is currently reviewing the situation and has not made any decisions on what will happen to the teacher.
“We love her as a teacher,” Black said. “So, we’re willing to see what happens.”