Key state senator files bill to offer 'alternative pathways' to high school diploma
Florida Sen. Bill Montford, a Tallahassee Democrat who heads the state superintendents association, submitted legislation Monday to give high school students more chances to earn a standard diploma if they don't pass state-mandated algebra and language arts tests.
Unlike a similar measure in the House, Montford's bill [SB 584] would not allow students to skip the state exams and substitute them with a portfolio, industrial certification or alternate test. Rather, the students would have to fail the 10th-grade language arts Florida Standards Assessment or the Algebra I end-of-course exam before becoming eligible for the other options.
Montford said he considered going the other way. But he had doubts about getting the idea of eliminating the tests through the Legislature. And he said the need to give teens a path to a diploma rather than a certificate of completion is too great to saddle the concept with a battle over opting out.
As written, he said, "I think this bill has an excellent chance of passing. It's the right thing for these students who do all the work and are very successful," yet just cannot pass the tests.
Montford still plans to submit a more sweeping bill to overhaul Florida's entire testing system. He filed SB 584 separately, he said, in case the broader attempt is not successful.