PBC school board sides with parents

Posted by Rachel Leigh - email

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - The school board admits the way the new curriculum is being implemented is not working and something has to change.

Update, THU 9 AM: Nearly 1,000 frustrated parents and teachers crowded Wednesday night's explosive Palm Beach County school board meeting.

This is all about drastic changes in the classroom and how they were implemented.

Board members didn't vote on the changes, but they did promise adjustments will be made.

But what does the man behind the plan, Chief Academic Advisor Jeffery Hernandez, think of all this?

Reporter John Bachman asked, "Are you prepared, at this point, to at least admit the way the plan was implemented was a failure?"

"I'm not saying it was a failure, but we have made comments before. Maybe the communication we have provided has not been clear to everyone," said Hernandez.

He's the one who crafted the new curriculum which requires a rigorous series of "embedded assessments". He says extra tests will raise standardized testing scores and meet federal guidelines.

Parents and teachers called for a vote of no-confidence Wednesday night against Hernandez and the superintendent. They claim Hernandez' new rules put too much pressure on teachers and students.

School board members admit there needs to be a new curriculum for some schools. "You can't have everything the same for every student. And that's what the district is trying to do. We need to make sure the teachers in the classroom implement an educational plan that is best for the students in their classroom," said School Board Chair Frank Barbieri.

Superintendent Art Johnson has made some changes to the curriculum in recent weeks. Schools can choose to create their own tests in place of district assessments.

Advanced placement students don't have to take as many, and gifted students don't have to take them at all.

The superintendent says expect a meeting of district leaders in the coming weeks to talk about how to move forward.

Previously: There are no clear resolutions in the clash between new school board testing policies and parents and teachers who say the intense, regular tests prohibit student growth instead of encouraging it.

Palm Beach County School Superintendent Art Johnson said, after a marathon school board meeting Wednesday, he expects a meeting of the minds soon.

Board members stuck around to debate a new program involving intense, regular testing after roughly 1,000 angry parents and teachers came out in protest. They called for a vote of no confidence, carried signs, pumped fists and wore a blaze of orange.

The school board acknowledged the need for a new curriculum in place for some schools, but the implementation has been disastrous.

Still, the mastermind behind the program, Jeffrey Hernandez, declined to call the system a failure. "Maybe the communication we have provided has not been clear to everyone."

Hernandez's new academic program requires a rigorous series of "embedded assessments" -- extra tests he said will raise standardized testing scores.

But parents disagree saying it puts too much pressure on students. Teachers disagree, as well, saying it puts too much pressure on them and does not allow them room to teach.