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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Flurry of new education legislation drops in days before Florida session



As promised, Sen. Don Gaetz filed a bill this week aiming to give students and schools options other than the Florida Standards Assessments in the Florida education accountability system.

SB 1360, which so far has no House companion, would establish a list of accepted alternatives to the FSA. The goal, according to the bill, is to stay true to the state's mission of assessing performance with tests, but to provide "valid, reliable, and respected assessment options for students to demonstrate subject area and grade level competency and college and career readiness."

They would be able to use, among other choices, ACT Aspire, Advanced Placement and CLEP exams. Several career industry certifications also would be available to replace selected state tests.

Gaetz was not alone in submitting education bills as the Legislature nears its official start of session Tuesday. Among the others:

HB 1135, by Rep. Debbie Mayfield, would require all school grades to be listed as "incomplete" for 2015. (District superintendents requested this action, which the State Board of Education said it has no authority to take.)

HB 4047, by Rep. Larry Metz, would eliminate the district cost differential from the school funding model. (Several school districts have pushed for this change.)

SB 1418, by Sen. David Simmons, would require districts to use their supplemental academic instruction funds on added reading instruction in their lowest performing elementary schools. (This program has been viewed as an unfunded mandate in the past.)

SB 1368, by Sen. Jeremy Ring, would mandate that all schools have at least one school resource officer.

SB 1338, by Sen. Aaron Bean, would provide a public record exemption to information reported by a student or parent on a school tip line.

These and dozens of other bills will face scrutiny in one or more committees, and most won't make it to the finish line. As every year, we'll keep tabs on the education legislation of note throughout the session. Let us know if we miss what you want to learn more about. Get ready. It's coming.

[Last modified: Thursday, January 7, 2016 12:21pm]


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