Pasco elementary school students to see less testing

The school district cut back many of the finals it had asked children to take, after several complaints.
Published Aug. 12, 2019

Pasco County public elementary school students will see fewer tests this year, with middle and high school students to benefit next year.

Gone this year are all elementary district finals in math, science and social studies. Only children in kindergarten, first and second grades will sit for a language arts assessment from the district.

Most grade levels will no longer have to take physical education, art or music course finals, as well. Those will be offered only in third grade for P.E., fourth for art and fifth for music.

Because the bulk of the district finals were used primarily to evaluate teachers, rather than improve instruction, they have been scaled back to a more manageable number, district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said.

A group of district educators recommended the changes to superintendent Kurt Browning, who called for a review after receiving complaints about too much testing from teachers and parents.

The committee concluded that students’ language arts scores could suffice for every teacher, as the required skills are present in every subject area. The older students’ state exam results could be used for their teachers, eliminating the need for a district final as well.Teachers in the “special” areas of P.E., art and music will get scores from a sampling of their students, rather than have all take a test.

Students will continue to complete “quarterly checks” in the humanities, math and science, which district officials have said help teachers gauge how everyone is progressing toward meeting standards and adjust lessons accordingly.

A similar review is in progress for middle and high school tests. Browning told the School Board via email that changes would come to the secondary level in 2020.

He has said frequently that his goal is to find ways to get the needed data with as little stress as possible.

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