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Florida looks to a new way of student testing

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Governor Ron DeSantis listens as Education Commissioner, Richard Corcoran answers a reporter’s questions in regards to the phasing out of the FSA to pivot to progress monitoring and how that will work to rate schools in the future, at High Point Elementary School, Tuesday, September 14, 2021 in Clearwater.
Governor Ron DeSantis listens as Education Commissioner, Richard Corcoran answers a reporter’s questions in regards to the phasing out of the FSA to pivot to progress monitoring and how that will work to rate schools in the future, at High Point Elementary School, Tuesday, September 14, 2021 in Clearwater. [ MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Times ]
Published Sep. 15

More than two decades ago, Florida became a national leader in what was known as the “education reform” movement, in large part for its relentless emphasis on student testing outcomes. On Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis declared the state’s testing model outdated, and called for a new way forward. “We’re going to continue to monitor results,” the governor stated. Just not the same ones. Read on for that story and more Florida education news.

DeSantis called on lawmakers to not replace the Florida Standards Assessments, which were on their way out with new standards. He wants to use progress monitoring results in their place for accountability. His idea was met with praise and a lot of questions.

The latest on masks

Pinellas County School Board member Caprice Edmond asked her colleagues to impose a 90-day strict mask mandate. She didn’t get a second to her motion. The district continues with its voluntary mask policy.

Some St. Lucie County residents urged their school district to impose a stiffer mask requirement. The School Board stuck with a parent opt out, TC Palm reports.

The Indian River County School Board reconsidered its mask rule that requires a medical exception to opt out. Board members decided to adopt a tiered approach, in which masks would be voluntary at campuses with low case loads, TC Palm reports. Superintendent David Moore said the plan would address “the realities at individual school sites.”

The Volusia County School Board also backed away from its strict mask mandate. It approved a parent opt-out for its policy, which previously required a doctor’s note, WKMG reports.

One of the concerns: Districts that continue their strict mask requirements could face fines. Education commissioner Richard Corcoran said his department intends to enforce rules the same for all districts, WTSP reports. So far, only Alachua and Broward counties have had money withheld by the state, which contends such mandates violate state rules and laws.

A Sarasota County School Board member faced criticism over her district’s tough mask rule. She helped craft the policy that requires masks at outdoor events, and then was accused of not following it, the Herald-Tribune reports. More from WWSB.

Some Duval County charter schools are not following the school district’s mask requirements. Some parents are upset about it, WJXT reports.

More coronavirus concerns

The St. Johns County health department couldn’t keep up with contact tracing in the schools. The school district hired a private company to do the work, WJXT reports. • The district also partnered with a local hospital to provide a hotline for parents with questions about quarantines and COVID testing, the St. Augustine Record reports.

Want to know if someone in your child’s class has been quarantined? The Pasco County school district cut back on its parental notifications, citing complaints of “message fatigue.” WTSP reports.

Show them the money. The Manatee County school district is seeking access to nearly $40 million in additional federal coronavirus relief money, the Bradenton Herald reports.

It’s a felony

Another day, another bomb threat. Several students across Florida have been making school threats this year, the Miami Herald reports. • A Bay County teen was arrested on accusations of helping to organize a bomb threat at a local high school, the Panama City News Herald reports.

“He’s a good kid.” The parents of a Lee County teen accused of plotting a school shooting massacre defend their son against the accusations, WFLA reports. • A testing coordinator who was substituting in the school alerted law enforcement to the possible threat, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

Other school news

Many students are struggling with the basics this year. Escambia County schools have expanded the number of social work professionals to help the children, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

Keeping substitute teachers is hard enough. Marion County’s substitute pay rate was slated to decrease by $30 a day, until some workers complained, WUFT reports.

Some university faculty members and students have sued the state over its new “intellectual freedom” law. The state is trying to get the lawsuit thrown out, the News Service of Florida reports.

Don’t miss a story. Here’s the link to yesterday’s roundup.

Before you go ... RIP, Norm MacDonald.

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