Pasco school district to make some quarterly checks optional
Amid ongoing complaints, including from some School Board members, the Pasco County school district has decided to ease some of its quarterly "check" requirements.
The announcement came just weeks before the first quarter ends Oct. 14.
Testing and accountability director Peggy Jones has informed elementary school leaders that kindergarten-level tests in humanities, math and science for the first quarter will be optional. That means the principals can decide to use the assessments, or wait until the second quarter to begin checking children's progress against the state standards.
Jones also said third, fourth and fifth grade writing quarterly checks will be optional.
Although the district has used some form of quarterly testing for years, the latest version - launched in 2015 - has been the subject of criticism from some teachers, parents and at least one board member.
They have raised concerns about the locally-designed tests' validity and quality, and stated the checks are a waste of time.
Some noted that the addition of these checks after the superintendent's office got rid of other district-mandated tests, suggesting the leadership claimed credit for meeting demands for less assessment without actually doing so.
Board member Steve Luikart, a retired teacher and assistant principal, has called for a review of the model. Superintendent Kurt Browning's team has steadfastly supported the checks, saying they're not intended to carry high stakes, but rather to inform instruction leading up to year-end state exams based on the standards.