This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
A junior high honors English teacher, who was fired last spring for balking at testing she viewed as unethically subjective and an unnecessary burden on instructors and students, has not gone away quietly despite Granite School District efforts to shut her up.
The Acuity test was given several times in a school year to measure student progress. Florence and others argued that the test was not consistent with the curriculum and that it took away from valuable instruction time.
They also resisted the requirement that English teachers grade students' writing samples in the test. They insisted it was unethical for teachers to grade their own students on an exam given across the district because the teachers themselves would be judged by the students' success on the exam.
Florence was fired at the end of March for insubordination. Two other English teachers at Wasatch left the school over that issue as well.
Since then, Florence has appealed her termination, demanding she be reinstated with back pay. In June, a hearing officer from the district's human resources department dismissed her appeal.
But she didn't give up.
After her attorney sought a hearing before an independent arbitrator, the district offered her a cash settlement.
But the proposal came with a catch. She was to sign an agreement that she never would publicly say or write anything critical of Granite School District.
Florence refused, saying that would be selling her First Amendment right of free speech.
Now, the issue is whether the hearing before an administrator from the Washington School District in St. George will be open or closed.
Florence requested an open hearing, but the district wants it closed. The Washington District hearing officer will decide that dispute. The hearing was scheduled for Dec. 12 but has been delayed until January.
Because of her outspokenness about the tests, Florence has become a pariah to Granite officials.
When the district conducted a Common Core workshop for teachers at Cottonwood High in August, Florence stopped by to hear some of the discussion and say hello to friends. She was there for about 45 minutes, then left. Within minutes, her attorney received a call from a district official saying Florence was not allowed on any district property without permission.
Meanwhile, critics of Granite's Acuity exam point to the district's poor performance on the SAGE test and allege one of the reasons is the amount of time students had to prepare and take the extra tests.
Statewide, the average SAGE scores (or proficiency rates) were 42 in language arts, 39 in math and 44 in science. In the Jordan District, the scores were 43, 39 and 45, and, in Salt Lake City, they were 39, 35 and 35.
In Granite, they were 28, 28 and 28.