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Granite District Fires Teacher Who Snubbed Standardized Test

Alberto G via Creative Commons

The Granite School board voted last week to formalize the termination of a 8th grade English teacher who refused to grade part of a standardized test.

Ann Florence taught in Granite School District for nearly 14 years. But her career at Wasatch Jr. High ended after she refused to grade a section of a quarterly benchmark exam last year that asked students to answer a question with a written response.

“It was a colossal waste of time and we thought it was a conflict of interest,” Florence says.

Florence says administrators were unclear with her and other teachers about how the test scores would be used, but that they could be used to calculate performance pay.

Ben Horsley is spokesman for the Granite School District. He says the district requires the teacher provide the test and review it, but the data is for the teachers themselves.  He added the district has not implemented a performance pay system at all.

“We don’t collate this information at the district level,” Horsley says. “It’s kept at the school level, so that the teachers can get together with their respective counterparts and subject areas, review the information and then work together to improve instruction there at the school level.”

Ann Florence says she wasn’t given the time to analyze the scores—adding she’d rather be using class time for instruction and so would the students. 

“These kids are sick to death of tests,” Florence says. “You tell them there’s a test today and it’s the loudest groaning you’ve ever heard.”

Most of the larger school districts in Utah administer quarterly benchmark exams.

District Spokesman Ben Horsley says the district ended up spending nearly $30,000 on the termination process. Florence says she also spent thousands of dollars out of pocket to fight the issue, and likely won’t take legal action against the district. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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