Florida Senate to tackle testing concerns early in 2017
Influential state Sen. David Simmons is wasting no time in his effort to improve Florida's public school testing model.
Simmons has dedicated his PreK-12 Appropriation Subcommittee's entire second session to a discussion on assessments, and how to streamline the time and money spent on them.
"We're looking for solutions," Simmons told the Gradebook. "We've been told by school administrators and superintendents that a huge amount of time has been wasted as a result of the amount of testing that we've done."
Part of the problem might lie in the state's reliance on computerized exams, when schools don't have adequate technology to handle the load, he said. One possible answer might be to use more paper-and-pencil tests, he said, allowing schools to quickly and efficiently administer them rather than stringing the process over weeks and interrupting classes as a result.
"We need to have teachers teaching," Simmons said.
Other ideas up for consideration include a reduction in tests, and replacing state exams with national ones such as the SAT or ACT.
"We want to hear it all," Simmons said. "We are confronted by a solvable problem."
He discounted any notion of completely eliminating state testing, though. Florida's progress in student performance depends upon accountability, he said, and assessments provide the data necessary to know where schools are successful and where they need more attention.
"Accountability is a big part of the solution," Simmons said.
House Education Appropriations chairman Manny Diaz has also expressed interest in an "honest conversation" about testing and related matters. Stay tuned.