Will Florida end high-stakes test requirements?

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
Florida has long required high school students to pass high-stakes tests to earn a diploma. Some lawmakers have proposed doing away with the requirement. [Pasco County School District]
Florida has long required high school students to pass high-stakes tests to earn a diploma. Some lawmakers have proposed doing away with the requirement. [Pasco County School District]
Published Nov. 17

The big story: High stakes testing has been a cornerstone of Florida’s accountability-based education system for more than two decades.

The Florida Senate is exploring ways to pare it back, in the name of freeing public school districts from what some have called “onerous” burdens. So far the proposals, which include ending high school graduation algebra and language arts test requirements, have won near universal acclaim.

Superintendents from across the state said such a move would allow teens to focus on material that can benefit them, such as career and technical courses, rather than spending so much time trying to pass a test. They also backed a proposal to end retention of third graders based on reading test scores.

But not everyone supports the idea, particularly those who helped put it in place. Read more from News Service of Florida.

Hot topics

Teacher pay: The Volusia County School Board approved a teacher contract that includes 2.5% raises, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. • Polk County teachers expressed dismay that their approved raises have yet to appear in their paychecks, Lakeland Now reports. • Walton County teacher contract talks ended after two sessions with proposed raises for all, including a $5,000 boost in base pay, WMBB reports.

Race relations: Questions linger a decade after the Brevard County school district faced a federal complaint over discipline of Black students, Florida Today reports.

Pronouns: Responding to questions from the Orange County school district, Florida education commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. offered the state’s interpretation of how to enforce rules restricting the use of “false” pronouns, Florida’s Voice reports. “There’s a stark difference between something being false and something being prohibited,” Diaz wrote.

Free speech: The University of Florida chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine has sued university and state system officials over an Oct. 24 order to disband the organization, contending the move violates students’ free speech rights. • A Republican state lawmaker has called on the Palm Beach County school district to suspend a teacher who has publicly supported the Palestinian community, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Cell phones: Pasco County superintendent Kurt Browning repeated his desire to have cell phones banned from use during the school day, WFLA reports.

Book challenges: A Flagler County resident says he is displeased with the way the district handled his challenge of the Bible being available in schools, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. • Some Hernando County School Board members contend the district is violating state law by allowing some challenged books to remain in schools, Suncoast News reports. • PEN America has named its first Florida director to fight book censorship in schools, WCGU reports.

Other school news

Broward County schools are reopening Friday. Officials said all flooding damage could be fixed in time, the Miami Herald reports.

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The Palm Beach County School Board adopted new policy for high school sports registration. It no longer requires students to submit their full medical history, including the elimination of controversial questions about girls’ menstrual periods, the Palm Beach Post reports.

The Alachua County School Board again delayed its decision on revised school boundaries. Board members raised concerns they did not receive adequate information, the Gainesville Sun reports.

From the police blotter ... A Manatee County elementary school paraprofessional was arrested on accusations of molesting a third-grade student, WFLA reports.

From the court docket ... The Supreme Court said Florida may not enforce its law barring children from “adult live performances” while the law is under appeal, Associated Press reports.

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Before you go ... Are the pandas coming back to the U.S.?

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