South Florida Sun Sentinel | By Jeffrey Schweers | March 15, 2022
Florida’s era of the big, anxiety-inducing, year-end “high-stakes testing” dreaded by students, parents and teachers alike is over.
With a stroke of his pen Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill (SB 1048) scrapping the Florida Standards Assessment exams starting next year, replacing them with smaller, more frequent tests under a system that will provide more frequent progress monitoring.
“We’ve come not to praise the FSA but to bury it,” DeSantis said at a news conference at St. Petersburg Collegiate School, a charter school that prepares students for college.
By his side were outgoing Education Secretary Richard Corcoran, and Tampa Bay area Republicans House Speaker Chris Sprowls, Rep. Linda Chaney, and Rep. Chris Latvala.
This will be the last year the Department of Education will administer the FSA, DeSantis said. Next year, the state will roll out the progress monitoring system, which will provide an information baseline for future years, he said.
Progress monitoring will allow teachers to assess student development in math and language arts throughout the year, make necessary adjustments to their lesson plans, and provide any required remedial education to get them up to par, the governor said.
Currently, they have to wait for test results to be released, usually in summer after school is out and it’s too late to change teaching plans.
Ultimately, it will eliminate the anxiety of waiting for results and lead to more time learning and less time testing, DeSantis said.
Teachers and the president of the St. Pete charter school who participated in the news conference said they saw firsthand how progress monitoring can help.
But other educators around the state have said the new system will actually lead to more testing as students will have to take “check-in” tests throughout the year to measure their performance, adding to an already heavy testing schedule. Teachers have been using “progress monitoring” for years to monitor student performance, so this is nothing new.
And it will actually cut into learning time, not add to it. Instead of requiring students in grades 3-10 to take the exams, the new law extends testing to pre-kindergarten, which means 4-year-olds will have to sit at a computer for testing, opponents said.
“When the governor said he was reducing testing, teachers and parents saw a real opportunity to fix what’s wrong with how Florida assesses students. We imagined better outcomes for kids,” said Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, the statewide teachers union, in a statement. “This bill does not reduce testing but increases it. The bill does not focus on student learning or on providing teachers time to monitor and assess children’s progress. In fact, it probably will add more work for already overwhelmed teachers. Most basically, the bill fails students.”