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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Senate Education Committee merges ideas from two key testing bills into one



With limited debate, the Florida Senate Education Committee on Monday effectively merged the ideas of two competing bills to reform state testing into one measure.

Pressed for time, the panel rapidly adopted several amendments to SB 926, a bill that originally set shifting the state testing window to late May as its primary objective. The changes put the bill more in line with SB 964, a proposal preferred by many critics of the existing high-stakes model.

The amendments, submitted by Sens. David Simmons and Tom Lee, would allow schools to use paper-pencil testing, eliminate several end-of-course exams and consider the use of existing national tests including AP exams to replace state high school assessments. (See the amendments here.) Sen. Bill Montford, the key sponsor of SB 964, said a week ago he expected the Senate to bring many of his ideas into its legislation.

SB 926 sponsor Sen. Anitere Flores said Monday she welcomed the efforts to bring sanity back to the system. She said she had worked with Simmons, Montford and others ahead of time to amend her bill.

"I believe assessing students' knowledge plays a large part in ensuring success, and that is the reason SB 926 is so important to me. We need to ensure state testing serves its fundamental purpose and that legislation be comprehensive and substantive. That is why I was happy to reach across the aisle and collaborate with Senate colleagues Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee) and David Simmons (R-Altamonte) to amend my proposed bill, and in the long run, have legislation that will improve the quality of education," Flores said in a release.

The House version remains unchanged. The two bills would need to be identical to go to the governor's desk.

[Last modified: Monday, April 3, 2017 6:47pm]


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