Teacher fired after refusal to grade standardized test

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SALT LAKE COUNTY -- A teacher fired from the Granite School District for refusing to grade a standardized test is speaking out against her former employer.

Ann Florence was terminated in March after expressing her disapproval of a formal assessment teachers are required to administer three times a year.

"A testing day doesn't teach kids anything. I need that time. They give more and more tests and I do less and less teaching, and then I'm held more and more accountable," Florence said.

The Acuity Test is a compilation of multiple choice questions and writing that is used to help teachers assess how their students are progressing.

"Half of our department, three teachers, agreed that it was unethical," Florence said.

But she felt that it was an inaccurate calculation, as part of the exam was graded by the teachers, not a computer, as is the case in other standardized tests.

"They want hard data, numbers, on a subjective evaluation by a student’s own teacher," Florence said, "We don't think that that's appropriate."

The Granite School District, however, disagreed.

"This is something to give teachers data over the course of the year to know what their kids know and know what they don't know," said district spokesman Ben Horsley.

The tests were implemented to aid teachers in determining what their students should be learning.

While Florence's refusal to grade the assessments went against district policy, Horsley said it was a history of disciplinary problems that contributed to her termination.

According to a letter from the district to Florence, the testing was a major factor in their decision, but officials also cited two behavior-related incidents, where they said Florence used an inappropriate word in the classroom and pushed a student.

"This is the straw that broke the camel's back. We have so many wonderful teachers who have embraced this and recognize the valuable data that it provides," Horsley said. "I would be very concerned as a parent if I sent my child into a classroom and that teacher didn't care what my child already knew."

Despite her early departure from the classroom, Florence believes she's teaching her students as important a lesson as any.

"My students are proud of me. They hate the tests. They resent the tests. And I've heard from enough of them that that matters to me," Florence said. "That they would have an experience in their life where someone who cared about them would say, 'I'm not doing this. I can't compromise my integrity.' That is what is important."

Florence has the option to contest the termination. She has not decided if she will, yet.

5 comments

  • Trish Ramirez

    Good for her. Those tests are a joke. Every teacher I have spoken to thinks they’re nonsense. They spend all of their time testing and prepping for testing and grading tests, they can’t teach the kids anything anymore. Kids aren’t learning to learn they are regurgitating information on tests. Teachers know this and they are sick of it. The kids are sick of it, they are constantly stressed because all they do is take tests.

  • Jessica

    Mrs. Florence was one of my very favorite teachers! This makes me terribly sad. While in junior high I had many health issues. Mrs. Florence was one of the VERY few teachers that took the time and care to help me succeed! I KNOW that what ever she does is truely what she feels is best for her students. I pray that everything will go well for her and that she may continue to always be the happy, loving person and TEACHER I love!
    -Jessica

  • Bri

    THANK YOU MRS.FLORENCE!
    You were always my favorite English teacher.
    Thank you for standing up for what you believe in!
    This was amazing.
    Bri

  • D

    I have all my respect to Mrs.Florence
    For she has the guts to fight against the district
    For she taught me many things in her class
    For she actually cared for her students
    For she made the class understandable
    Whenever I write an essay, I always remember her song:
    My Essay Has A Catchy Hook
    Word Picture Like a Good Book
    Thesis Statement At the End
    Subject Plus Opinion My Friend!

    Best Teacher Ever!
    D

  • Yes, I Care!

    There is a report out, the OLRGC 2013 Education Policy Brief, that shows the number of tests taken per district. Most districts in Utah are pretty similar, but Granite School District has almost twice as many required tests as the average district. This needs more attention. Mrs. Florence is right when she says that we don’t have time to teach because all we do is test. Our students dread the words “computer lab” because they know that means one more assessment. I’ve wondered what would happen if I took a stand and skipped some of the more meaningless tests. Now I know. Horsley said. “I would be very concerned as a parent if I sent my child into a classroom and that teacher didn’t care what my child already knew.” Questioning the validity of the district mandated test and caring about what the child knows are NOT the same thing! As a teacher, I do care. I assess students knowledge and abilities every time I correct an assignment, call on a student in class, or watch their faces while I’m teaching a lesson. To suggest that the only way to assess students is to give more standardized tests, shows how out of touch the administration is with what goes on in the classroom. Each year more demands are made on our time that take away from our instruction time while more requirements are made as to what our students need to know. MANY of us are looking at moving to other districts to escape the unreasonable demands placed on teachers in Granite.

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