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Hillsborough high school students will see reduction in final exams

Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins, center, says students in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate will face less stress at the end of the school year under the new plan that eliminates the requirement of taking the same tests multiple times.
Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins, center, says students in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate will face less stress at the end of the school year under the new plan that eliminates the requirement of taking the same tests multiple times.
Published Dec. 26, 2016

TAMPA — High school students in Hillsborough County will see testing relief this school year as the school district continues to chip away at duplicate exams.

More than a dozen classes, from Advanced Placement French to International Baccalaureate visual arts, are affected by the change.

"By the reduction of these exams, schools and students will have less stress over having to take duplicate testing in these courses," superintendent Jeff Eakins wrote in a recent memo to School Board members.

The action, which takes effect in the spring, follows a pruning in the last school year of elementary school assessments.

Fueling the move is a state law that limits standardized testing to 5 percent of a student's total school hours, and the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which gives incentives to states to streamline testing.

Committees that studied the issue found that students in AP courses and IB programs, which have their own competency exams, must sit for tests covering the same material issued by the school district, largely so the district can evaluate teachers.

It turns out that the AP and IB tests — along with the ACT, the SAT and state-issued end-of-course exams — generate enough data to show student growth and evaluate teachers.

With the school year now ending in May, IB and AP tests occur very close to the end of the school year, bumping up against the district's exam schedule.

Some students already earn exemptions from the district exams through good attendance and grades. The committee found that, in calculating final grades, schools can follow the same procedure.

Contact Marlene Sokol at (813) 226-3356 or msokol@tampabay.com. Follow @marlenesokol.

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