Teacher fired after refusal to grade standardized test

Posted at 9:54 PM, Apr 14, 2014
and last updated 2014-04-14 23:54:29-04

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.