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Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart released a report yesterday recommending a reduction in the number of tests Florida students in public schools are required to take after an investigation requested by Governor Rick Scott.
Stewart said, We worked closely with each school district to understand how many standardized tests are currently being administered. I appreciate that our states school districts took the time to provide the department with detailed information regarding the tests their students are taking. There is, without a doubt, an excess of testing in Florida schools, and I look forward to working with Governor Scott and the Legislature to ensure we strike the appropriate balance between accountability and instruction.
During the Commissioners investigation, the department identified several opportunities where the state requirements should be reduced.
In order for Florida to move forward with fewer, better assessments, the Commissioner recommends enacting four measures:
1. Issue an Executive Order to suspend the Grade 11 Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) for English language arts until legislation is enacted to eliminate the mandate.
Since students meet their English language arts graduation requirement upon completion of the grade 10 assessment, the Grade 11 FSA for English language arts is no longer needed.
2. Enact legislation to eliminate the Postsecondary Education Readiness Test (PERT) as a state mandate for grade 11 and make it optional.
The department believes that the PERT current practice should continue as an option for students in high school and local colleges.
Rigorous standards and increased graduation requirements are in place to ensure college and career readiness upon high school graduation.
3. Enact legislation to eliminate the current progress monitoring requirements.
The department believes current state requirements are overly prescriptive and progress monitoring decisions should be left at the district level.
4. Enact legislation to eliminate local final exams in courses/subjects where there is also a statewide, standardized end-of-course exam.
Current statewide end-of-course assessments are Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, U.S. History, Biology 1, and Civics.
Also, Stewart recommends giving no more than one school-wide or district-wide interim assessment per course per grading period. She wants to end testing students for the purpose of evaluating teachers. Stewart wants to provide teachers, parents and students with information about how students are doing on each assessment used to monitor student progress.
For more information, read the full report released Feb. 18, 2015.