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Florida lawmakers weigh in on spring testing consequences

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
The Florida Department of Education will not cancel spring standardized testing in 2021. It remains undecided how the results will be used. Senators offered their input on Tuesday.
The Florida Department of Education will not cancel spring standardized testing in 2021. It remains undecided how the results will be used. Senators offered their input on Tuesday.
Published Mar. 31
Updated Mar. 31

For months now, Florida parents and educators have called upon state officials to detach student test results from consequences such as grade promotion and high school graduation. Lawmakers on Tuesday again signaled that they’re listening. But members also suggested that the real solution should come from the executive branch. That action could come within a week. Read on for the latest on that story and more Florida education news.

The Senate Education Committee unanimously backed legislation tackling assessment during the pandemic. It also addressed issues such as tuition lawsuits and parent-requested student retention.

Coronavirus concerns

The pandemic won’t last forever, right? Anticipating more “normal” times in the fall, the Pasco County school district announced plans to shutter its remote-online class offerings.

For now, the masks stay. Volusia County health officials cautioned the school district not to drop its requirement, despite public pressure, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

The pandemic increased mental health struggles for children. Southwest Florida service providers say they’ve been stretched beyond capacity, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

Graduation day is fast approaching. The Escambia and Santa Rosa districts are working out details to have in-person celebrations, the Pensacola News-Journal reports. • South Florida districts have announced their guidelines for in-person events, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

Federal money is on its way. The Citrus County School Board discussed plans for spending $4.25 million from the CARES Act, and how it might use future rounds of funding, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

Remember when the Miami-Dade County school district’s new online instruction system kept failing? The district is pondering a lawsuit against Comcast over the matter, Miami Today reports.

Tallahassee action

Another hearing on a bill to revamp Bright Futures scholarships is set. Opponents are gearing up, WWSB reports. More from Scripps News.

Black lawmakers proposed a college scholarship for direct descendants of the 1920 Ocoee Election Day Massacre. Questions remain whether the Legislature will fund the program, Florida Phoenix reports.

‘Our basic values are up for debate.’ Measures to shift the way sex education is provided in Florida schools are working their way through the Legislature, the Associated Press reports.

Today in Tallahassee ... The House Appropriations Committee will hold a six-hour session, starting at 9 a.m., where it will review proposed budgets and conforming legislation. • The Senate Appropriations Committee has budget proposals, as well as legislation on Bright Futures, on its 1 p.m. agenda. • The full House is set to convene at 4 p.m. Up for consideration will be several civic education bills and legislation to create a parental “bill of rights.”

In the schools

Better safe than sorry. The Broward County school district indefinitely closed four schools while it looks into whether their roofs might collapse similarly to one at a school with the same design, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

Martin County teachers finally will get their raises. It took 10 months of negotiations and a threat from the state to get the agreement done, TC Palm reports.

Recognize top teachers. An award-winning Palm Beach County English teacher added her district’s Teacher of the Year honor to her list of recognitions, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Political divisions

Want to know how to create divisions in a school? Offer an assault rifle as a prize in a fundraiser for seniors, as this Brevard County high school did, WKMG reports.

A Lee County School Board member has declared the district is in crisis. She has asked Gov. Ron DeSantis to send investigators, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

A Flagler County commissioner has attacked the local school district over its dealings with LGBTQ youth. The School Board chairwoman called him a “narcissistic beast” and offered to buy him a one-way ticket north, Flagler Live reports.

From the court docket ... A former Sarasota County School Board member filed suit against a political consultant he contends filed bogus complaints against him to damage his reelection bid, the Herald-Tribune reports.

Other district news

The Bay County school district is revamping its administration. The goal is to become more effective in its operations, WMBB reports.

The Duval County district is considering a headquarters relocation. It is looking for a consultant to help determine if the move would be worth it, WJXT reports.

Don’t miss a story. Yesterday’s roundup is just a click away.

Before you go ... State testing season kicks off next week. Despite years of attempts to change it, advocates for English-language learners have not yet convinced the state to provide the exams in children’s native languages. In this advocacy video, you can hear them talk about their rationale.