Valerie Strauss describes what happened in Lee County last night when the school board voted 3-2 to opt out of state testing, and she reviews what the state might do in response.

She writes:

“The pushback from Lee County — the ninth-largest district in the state and the 37th largest in the country, with more than 85,000 students – is striking in a state that has been at the forefront of standardized test-based “accountability” systems that use student test scores to evaluate not only kids but their teachers, principals, schools and districts. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush was a pioneer in test-based accountability and he continues to support it around the country, even amid a growing revolt around the country by parents and educators against test-based school reform, which has led to narrowed curriculum, obsessive test preparation and other negative consequences. Reformers have insisted that test scores are a legitimate high-stakes evaluation tool, even though assessment experts have repeatedly said otherwise.

“The Lee County school board voted to opt public schools out of all state-mandated testing. That includes standardized tests that will assess the new Sunshine State Standards, which were “adopted” after Florida pulled out of the Common Core and set forth new standards that were very similar. According to Armstrong, the boycott also includes state-mandated end-of-course exams, which are supposed to be given starting this year in every course that does not have a standardized test attached to it. The end-of-course exams, however, can be locally designed, do not have to be standardized computer or paper-and-pencil tests and can include a range of options.

“Asked what the state Department of Education could do to the county for taking this position, he said Florida could withhold state funds from the country and take other action, including removing a member from the board. A summary of possible consequences for the county, issued by the county’s school district attorney, included a number of other potential consequences, including the possibility that high school students could not complete state requirements to graduate. You can see the entire list here.”