Advertisement
  1. Education

Florida says it will review standardized testing in schools

Florida education chief Pam Stewart is gathering information from school districts.
Published Dec. 23, 2014

Florida education Commissioner Pam Stewart announced Monday that her department would conduct an examination of standardized testing in public schools, following months of criticism from school boards, teachers and parents across the state.

In a statement, the Department of Education said Stewart will "work closely with districts to gather complete and accurate information on the tests being administered to meet federal, state and local requirements."

The department will analyze the data and produce "information about the number of standardized tests and how each of the test results are used by the state, school boards and teachers," the statement said.

Stewart's office said districts have a Jan. 23 deadline to return information to the state, and the review would be completed "as soon as possible" after that.

Pressure has been building steadily this year for the state to address testing as Florida pivots to new education standards and a new standardized test to replace the FCAT. Many have said the transition is moving too fast and expressed fear that Florida's heavy reliance on test results for education accountability will hurt students and schools.

In August, the Lee County School Board created a stir by voting to opt out of testing altogether, only to reverse that decision and craft a resolution instead. Several other school systems voiced concern, as well, including Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Polk and Duval counties.

Pinellas County, initially reluctant to join in, voted earlier this month to adopt a resolution urging the state to slow down as it changes to a new accountability system. Pasco School Board members entered the fray last week, deciding to make their displeasure known in a letter to state officials.

The reaction has turned Florida into ground zero for anti-testing sentiment this year. A group supporting families who want to opt out of standardized testing in schools is holding its second annual conference next month in Fort Lauderdale.

The three-day session for United Opt Out National will include seminars on such issues as organizing and using social media to raise awareness.

Stewart's announcement comes four months after Gov. Rick Scott pledged a "thorough investigation of all standardized tests" as he was campaigning for re-election.

Separately on Monday, Stewart announced she is setting up a new group, the Keep Florida Learning Committee.

The 11-member panel will "review further deregulation opportunities for the school system" and look at how school boards select instructional materials, such as textbooks, the Department of Education said. The group also will look for ways to get parents more involved in schools and review the state's implementation of new standards and its new test, the Florida Standards Assessment.

The department put out a call for volunteers to serve on the committee. The deadline for applying is Jan. 31, and the group will start meeting in March.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. The Florida House Education Committee focuses on early education in its first meeting of the 2020 session. The Florida Channel
    School security and early learning get top billing in the first committee meetings of the looming 2020 session.
  2. Authorities say school guardian Erick Russell, 37, pawned his sheriff's-issued firearm because he needed gas money. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
    He also pawned magazines and body armor because he needed gas money, detectives said. He faces charges of false verification.
  3. This image from a Pinellas County Schools video shows an armed police officer running to respond to a fictional active shooter.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  4. Representatives from the Pasco County school district and the United School Employees of Pasco discuss salary and benefits during negotiations on Sept. 18, 2019. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff Writer
    The proposal is short on details, with officials saying they want to work through specifics during negotiations.
  5. Hillsborough schools superintendent MaryEllen Elia holds a back-to-school press conference at Rampello K-8 School, [TIMES files]
    MaryEllen Elia, who led the Hillsborough district from 2005 to 2015, has been an educator since 1970.
  6. Pasco School District headquarters in Land O' Lakes
    The board’s 2019-20 budget totals $1.39 billion.
  7. The DeLucio family of Trinity toured the Mitchell High School campus and showed the visit on their YouTube channel, which has more than 1 million subscribers. Many parents, students and school officials were not amused. YouTube
    The proposed policy comes up for a vote on Oct. 1.
  8. United School Employees of Pasco president Don Peace denounces the school district's pay raise proposal in a YouTube video sent to all district employees Sept. 9, 2019. United School Employees of Pasco
    The local teachers union already has denounced the idea.
  9. Goodwill's BookWorks preschool literacy program strives to instill a love of reading and helps provide children books.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  10. An eighth-grade boy can be seen punching a seventh-grader in a locker room in this screenshot from a video taken inside a Polk County middle school. Twitter
    A black student was slammed to the floor and punched repeatedly by a white classmate following a physical education class last week at Blake Academy in Lakeland.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement