Teachers, parents lead way in Florida review of new federal education rules
Just over 900 people submitted their views to the Florida Department of Education on pending education accountability rule changes prompted by new federal law, according to a newly released review from the department.
Leading the way were 309 teachers and 213 parents, with other groups and organizations chiming in, in smaller numbers. All together, they submitted more than 3,100 responses with more than 5,900 comments on the concepts that included testing, school improvement and methods of rating schools. The most responsive counties were Brevard, Duval, St. Johns, and Bay.
By contrast, the state received more than 19,000 comments when it sought input on changing its academic standards.
According to the new summary report:
"Most respondents were in favor of ESSA, pointing to potential improvements in assessment, curricula, funding, reaching students with learning challenges, as well as supporting English Language Learners. Most urged the use of school and community resources, continuing Florida practices, and providing accommodations in testing.
"There were differences on methods of district funding: most respondents were in favor of proportional distribution of district funds, rather than a competitive grant-based system. They differed on the use of state and locally developed tests compared to using national assessments. They also differed on issues surrounding accountability and high-stakes testing."
The Every Student Succeeds Act gives states more leeway to oversee their school accountability and improvement efforts than its predecessor, No Child Left Behind. Florida officials have suggested that they might tweak the current state model, but they haven't indicated that any major changes would emerge.
Some parents and other groups, however, have clamored for revisions to the state grading system, as well as for an easing of the stakes attached to state test results. The process is far from complete, as state officials have yet to draft any recommended rules, which would have to go to lawmakers for approval. Department leaders have said they will seek more public input as the effort continues.