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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

New Florida lawmaker proposes ending P.E. test for high school athletes

Times file photo

6

January

If you know a Florida high school student, you know about the state's mandated one-credit Health Opportunities through Physical Education, or HOPE, class. 

It's the class most kids don't want to take, and many turn to the virtual version just to get it and their one-credit online course requirement out of the way at the same time.

The law has offered student-athletes, who spend hours beyond a single course working on their physical skills, the option of taking a personal fitness competency test in lieu of sitting through HOPE. But high school guidance counselors routinely tell students to just take the class, saying the test is too hard and not worth the effort.

Newly elected state Rep. Ralph Massullo, a Lecanto Republican, is looking to more evenly equate high school sports participation to the HOPE course. In his second filed bill (HB 6015), Massullo, a physician, has proposed eliminating the personal fitness test as a substitute for the class. He would allow a student to satisfy the credit requirement by being on a varsity or junior varsity team for two full seasons, no test needed.

Citrus County School Board member Thomas Kennedy, long a proponent of this idea, praised his local lawmaker for taking up the measure.

"As a parent of a high school senior, I value the Florida Legislature's efforts to provide in-school and virtual course options for students, in particular for the high school physical education graduation requirements. I greatly support the P.E. waiver options for those students who participate in physical extracurricular activities in courses such as marching band, dance, Reserve Officer Training Corps or interscholastic sports," Kennedy said.

"Unfortunately, due to the way the current statute was written, an unintended consequence resulted in the varsity/interscholastic sports have a state test required for the waiver, where the other extracurricular activities did not. Rep. Massullo's efforts would provide a more equitable option for interscholastic sport students and would also provide students with additional elective options and course flexibility."

Massullo appears to be a supporter of reduced testing mandates, as he's also co-sponsored a bill (HB 131) that would get rid of the third-grade reading test requirement to be promoted to fourth grade. Read more on that legislation here.

Neither bill has a Senate companion at this point. But the Senate Education Appropriations subcommittee plans to discuss ways to scale back testing when it meets Wednesday, with chairman David Simmons saying he has not ruled out any possibilities. Stay tuned. 

[Last modified: Friday, January 6, 2017 1:58pm]

    

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