Bill to cut back Florida testing gains bipartisan support
Nearly a month ago, three key Florida lawmakers set forth their "Fewer Better Tests" legislation with backing from Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education.
This week, a bipartisan coalition of state senators and House members will be boosting a separate, more far reaching measure (SB 964 / HB 1249).
The Senate version is introduced by Commerce chairman Sen. Bill Montford, a Tallahassee Democrat who also runs the state superintendents association. Joining him as co-sponsors are Community Affairs chairman and former Senate president Tom Lee, R-Brandon; Education committee vice chairwoman Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach; Children, Families and Elder Affairs chairman Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah; and Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando. PreK-12 Appropriations chairman David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, also is supporting the bill.
In the House, Monticello Republican Rep. Halsey Beshears has filed an identical version.
The group has scheduled a press conference for noon Wednesday in Tallahassee to tout the proposal, which includes several items that the state's superintendents have requested. Among those, the bill would eliminate several high school end-of-course exams, and give school districts the option to offer paper-pencil state testing.
The legislation also provides for an alternative, nationally recognized test to replace certain high school state tests, bars statewide language arts and math testing earlier than the last four weeks of school, and gets rid of value-added measures in teacher evaluations, among other things.
The Senate bill has been assigned to three committees. The House version has not yet been forwarded.