1. Florida Politics

Gov. Rick Scott signs bill that scales back testing

Gov. Rick Scott Gov. Scott says he “will keep working to make sure Florida students are not overtested.”
Published Apr. 15, 2015

TALLAHASSEE — Responding to a parent-driven charge to scale back testing in public schools, Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday signed legislation to eliminate at least one exam and delay the release of school grades until the other exams are deemed valid.

But some parent and teacher groups say the Republican governor should do more to ease the burden on schoolchildren.

The statewide teachers union called on Scott to work with state education officials to ensure that most of the school year is devoted to instruction — and to ensure that no students or teachers are penalized due to failures in the school accountability system.

The grass roots group, Parents Across America, is hoping Scott will go even further.

"We plan to coordinate with other Florida parent groups to request Gov. Scott consider an executive order to hold students harmless during this unpiloted transitional period as other GOP governors have," founder Rita Solnet said.

Scott, in a statement Tuesday, conceded there was still much work to be done on the issue of testing.

"I agree with many teachers and parents who say we have too many tests, and while this legislation is a great step forward, we will keep working to make sure Florida students are not overtested," he said.

But he did not seem interested in issuing an executive order, as he did in February to suspend the 11th-grade English exam for the current school year.

"I think we did the right thing through the legislative process," he told reporters late Tuesday.

The bill (HB 7069) permanently eliminates the 11th-grade English exam targeted in Scott's executive order. It also removes a requirement that local school districts create exams for every subject not covered by a state assessment, and limits the total number of hours students can spend on state-mandated tests.

What's more, the legislation addresses parent concerns about the validity of the tests by requiring outside experts to review the new Florida Standards Assessments. Until a review is completed, the test results cannot be used to make high-stakes decisions, such as whether third-grade students can be promoted.

A separate provision of the bill allows school districts to start classes as early as Aug. 10. But some districts have already said they will not start that early in 2015 because many families have already planned their summer vacations.

Florida Education Association president Andy Ford on Tuesday sent a letter urging Scott to support the bill, but also cautioned that it would do little to reduce the disruption caused by the state exams.

"The inflexible requirements that all state testing be online will continue to deprive students of meaningful instructional time because schools are turned into testing centers for nearly two months of each year," he wrote, pointing out that students have substitute teachers and are displaced from their classrooms during the testing season.

Ford said much of the problem could be mitigated by the use of paper-and-pencil tests until schools have one computer for each student.

"We support this legislation a first step, but hope that you will continue the effort to make sure Florida's education accountability is built to serve the learning needs of children and the legitimate needs of the adults that serve them," he said.

Mindy Gould, who oversees public policy for the Miami-Dade Council of PTAs/PTSAs, said her organization planned to appeal to Scott, too. "We're going to turn to the governor and see if he will go further," she said.

Contact Kathleen McGrory at Follow @kmcgrory.


  1. Vice President Mike Pence reacts during an immigration and naturalization ceremony in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House grounds, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) ALEX BRANDON  |  AP
    Katie Waldman, a former University of Florida student senator, was accused of helping discard independent student newspapers with a front-page endorsement of a rival party’s candidate. | Analysis
  2. Richard Swearingen, Florida's Commissioner of the Department of Law Enforcement, testifies before state lawmakers on Monday. Florida Channel
    But law enforcement officials are getting behind a “threat assessment system.”
  3. Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, urges the Florida Board of Education to hold schools accountable for teaching the Holocaust and African-American history, as required by lawmakers in 1994. The board was considering a rule on the matter at its Sept. 20, 2019, meeting in Jacksonville. The Florida Channel
    School districts will have to report how they are providing the instruction required in Florida law.
  4. The Mar-a-Lago Resort in Palm Beach. JOE RAEDLE  |  Getty Images
    It wasn’t immediately clear how much Mar-a-Lago would charge to host the Marine Corps Birthday Ball — or even if it might do so for free.
  5. In this March 24, 2018, file photo, crowds of people participate in the March for Our Lives rally in support of gun control in San Francisco. JOSH EDELSON  |  AP
    ‘Guns are always a volatile topic in the halls of the legislature,’ one Republican said.
  6. Pasco County school superintendent Kurt Browning says Fortify Florida, the new state-sponsored app that allows students to report potential threats, is "disrupting the education day" because the callers are anonymous, many of the tips are vague and there's no opportunity to get more information from tipsters. "I have an obligation to provide kids with a great education," Browning said. "I cannot do it with this tool, because kids are hiding behind Fortify Florida." JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |
    Vague and anonymous tips often waste law enforcement’s time and disrupt the school day, says Kurt Browning, president of Florida’s superintendents association.
  7. Tonight's LGBTQ Presidential Forum is hosted by Angelica Ross of FX's Pose. Twitter
    A live stream of the event and what to watch for as 10 candidates meet on stage in Iowa.
  8. In this April 11, 2018, file photo, a high school student uses a vaping device near a school campus in Cambridge, Mass.  [AP Photo | Steven Senne] STEVEN SENNE  |  AP
    "The department does not appear to have the authority to do anything.”
  9. Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos listens to a speaker share an opinion about a city matter during a city council meeting at Clearwater City Hall in Clearwater, Fla. on Thursday, April 20, 2017.  On Thursday, the Clearwater City Council rejected the mayor's resolution urging lawmakers to ban assault weapons.  [Times files] TIMES FILES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    However, the city did pass a resolution calling for more modest gun control measures.
  10. Maurice A. Ferré at his Miami home earlier this year. JOSE A. IGLESIAS  |  Miami Herald
    He served as mayor for 12 years and set the stage for Miami to become an international city.