Two testing bills are central to Florida’s downward spiral defense of its crumbling A-F School Accountability scheme. No discussion of these bills is complete without first acknowledging that the Florida’s high stakes testing experiment should be replaced. Despite this, legislators and lobbyists strive mightily to “fix” what clearly should be abandoned. HB1249 /SB964 by Sen. Bill Montford actually gets rid of tests while HB773 /SB926 by Sen.Flores and Rep. Diaz does not.
Florida School “reformers” know their high stakes testing scheme is a mess. Tallahassee lawmakers are pushing “Fewer, Better Tests” legislation which basically moves the testing window to the end of the school year. The truth behind this Jeb Bush band-aid was exposed at a press conference when a reporter asked bill sponsor Sen. Flores if there would be fewer tests and she admitted “it doesn’t eliminate any.” On cue, Bush representative Patricia Levesque flew unannounced to the microphone overtaking Senators so she could handle comments for the duration, making it clear that Jeb’s voice is the only one that matters.
The difference between these two bills is crystal clear. Sen. Montford’s SB964 bravely dials back damage while Jeb’s SB926 increases student suffering. Here’s a breakdown:
Fewer/Better Tests HB773 /SB926 by Rep. Manny Diaz and Antiere Flores is a Jeb Bush/Foundation for Florida’s Future production. Both Diaz and Flores make their living working for Academica, a politically connected, for-profit charter management corporation. This bill does four things, none of which result in “fewer, better tests.” No parent has asked for the content of this bill. Sole support comes from the Florida Chamber, the Foundation for Florida’s Future, Florida TaxWatch, the Hispanic Chamber, James Madison Institute, Florida Coalitions of School Board Members/Education “reform” supporters,Council for Educational Change, Council of 100 and Americans for Prosperity/Koch Bros.
- Establishes “proficiency” at an FSA score of 3, which will make it more difficult to pass and result in failing/remediating exponentially more students by using NAEP as a comparative tool to set FSA cut scores as high as possible. This is a vendetta move by Jeb’s Foundation lobbyists who are determined to “raise the bar” any way they can. In 2015, former Board of Education member John Padget to argued that “it’s better to take a cold shower now,” as if using one test to doom a child will somehow result in future “success” and ability to “compete.”
- Advances Competency Based Education, computerized learning that greatly reduces the role of the classroom teacher, in grades 3-10, allowing quarterly assessments. See lines 128-132 in the bill: (d) Beginning with any new contract for the ELA assessment in grades 3 through 10 and the mathematics assessment in grades 3 through 8 entered into after July 1, 2017, each new assessment shall be made available once per quarter for students who the school district has identified through competency-based education as having mastered the content and who are prepared to 134 take the applicable assessment.
- Requires a study regarding ACT and SAT in relation to Florida State Standards
- Moves Florida Standards Assessment testing window to the last three weeks of school
- Repeals all End of Course Exams except Algebra 1 and Biology
- Limits English Language Arts FSA to a one time test in High School
- Repeals Florida Commissioner’s authority to establish new End of Course exams
- Allows districts to select a nationally recognized assessment as an alternative to the FSA
- Requires paper/pencil option for the FSA to eliminate testing time, restore instruction time and accommodate districts who do not have on-line capacity
- Moves testing window to the last 4 weeks of school
- Requires test results 30 days
- Repeals VAM and returns teacher and principal evaluation process back to the districts
Public Education advocates – plan to speak up for our students and their teachers as these bills progress through committees.
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