Rick Roach is a school board member in Orange County, Florida. He took the state test, the FCAT, and concluded that it is a very poor measure of student learning and is consuming far too much instructional time.

Rick Roach joins the honor roll of champions of public education. The honor roll consists of people who fight for good education for all children; who oppose privatization and high-stakes testing; and who break ranks and take risks to speak out. They may be state board members, local school board members, superintendents, principals, teachers, parents, and concerned citizens.

A reader sent this story about him.

Last winter, when he took the FCAT, he failed both sections. He said he knew none of the answers to the math questions, but managed to get 62% on the reading section. His story was written up by Marion Brady for Valerie Strauss’s Answer Sheet column in the Washington Post.

Roach said this to Brady:

“A test that can determine a student’s future life chances should surely relate in some practical way to the requirements of life. I can’t see how that could possibly be true of the test I took.”

Then he added, “It makes no sense to me that a test with the potential for shaping a student’s entire future has so little apparent relevance to adult, real-world functioning. Who decided the kind of questions and their level of difficulty? Using what criteria? To whom did they have to defend their decisions? As subject-matter specialists, how qualified were they to make general judgments about the needs of this state’s children in a future they can’t possibly predict? Who set the pass-fail “cut score”? How?”

“I can’t escape the conclusion that decisions about the [state test] in particular and standardized tests in general are being made by individuals who lack perspective and aren’t really accountable.”