Bill would curb high stakes use of FCAT
Press release from the House Democratic office:
Representative Dwight Bullard (D-Miami) today filed legislation to improve student performance and school quality with a new education accountability plan for Florida. House Bill 1341 phases out in four years the use of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) as the only tool for determining student and school performance in most grades. The FCAT would be replaced with an accountability plan that considers the entirety of what students learn throughout the year instead of the current practice of judging performance on one standardized test.
“For too long, Florida’s education accountability system has put emphasis on getting students to pass the FCAT instead of focusing on the individual needs of every child,” said Representative Bullard. “Hard-working teachers are crying for the freedom to teach to students instead of a test. This legislation will empower teachers to teach.”
Sen. Maria Sachs (D-Delray Beach) is sponsoring the bill in the Senate.
HB 1341 would end the high stakes nature of all standardized tests that can now be used to retain a child in his or her grade, keep a middle school student from being promoted to high school or prevent a high school student from graduating simply for doing poorly on one test.
Under the bill, students and schools would be judged by the entirety of their work in these and other subjects to give Floridians a true picture of the quality of the entire public school system. Currently, performance is measured primarily from student’s FCAT scores in reading and math. Test scores in science and writing are considered in some grades.
The bill also focuses on the individual needs of Florida’s most struggling students by redirecting the $130 million school recognition fund to a new program to provide remediation and other help for low performing students.
The school recognition fund is used to reward schools for good performance on the FCAT. Recognizing the need for promoting excellence, Bullard said high performing schools can still be rewarded under the new plan with more budget flexibility to pay for unique programs that promote a high-quality education.
Money from the recognition fund would be redirected into the new “Every Child Matters” program, which could be used to provide transportation for children who wish to attend other public schools outside of their current school zone under the state’s current open school enrollment policy.
Read bill here.