The key to solving Florida’s standardized testing woes won’t be in simply reducing the amount of tests, but in a massive overhaul of the state’s accountability system, a panel of education experts mostly agreed during a forum Wednesday.

Joining in a discussion of school testing on the University of Florida campus were Alachua County Public Schools Superintendent Owen Roberts, Alachua County League of Women Voters President Sue Legg, Foundation for Excellence in Education Director Shan Goff and Chiles Elementary kindergarten teacher Susan Bowles, moderated by The Gainesville Sun’s opinions and engagement editor, Nathan Crabbe.

All four panelists agreed that Florida needs to shift toward fewer and better standardized tests.

On the question of how to get there, opinions were split.

Roberts said as long as the state’s model for measuring teaching and learning is driven by an accountability system that relies almost solely on test scores, nothing will change.

He and Legg slammed the legislature’s decision earlier this year to cut back on some end-of-year testing, characterizing the move as a “tweak” that doesn’t actually address the problem.

Tying teacher evaluations, school grades and grade promotion to test scores means the state has to keep testing students, and Florida is motivated to keep contracting with testing companies by money and politics, said Roberts, who has spent about half of his career in an advisory capacity to state-level testing groups. READ MORE