Unanimous Vote Sends Testing Overhaul Bill Through Full House

Mar 18, 2015

Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart talks testing, glitches before a Senate Education Committee.
Credit The Florida Channel / The Florida Channel

The House has unanimously approved a plan to scale back the number and importance of tests in public schools. The move comes after parent groups threatened to opt their kids out of taking exams, and teachers and schools complained they weren’t ready for the volume of exams that rolled out this year.

Lawmakers are responding to the criticism by approving proposals that reduce the number of exams students take. Both the House and Senate measures eliminate an 11th grade English test, order districts to stop creating duplicative end-of-course exams, and make a college readiness test optional. Democrats say the House plan doesn’t do enough to exempt students, schools and districts from penalties associated with poor performance, but joined Republicans in supporting the bill.

Those provisions can be found in the Senate version of the bill, which is set for its final committee stop today. The Senate has a provision that allows districts that experienced technical problems administering the state’s new exams to apply for a waiver from school grades. It also caps the amount of time districts can spend testing their students.

The state recently experienced widespread network problems administering the Writing version of its new Florida Standards Assessment. Students in 8th, 9th and 10th grade had to take the test online.

During the Summer, districts complained of having to create thousands of new exams to comply with a teacher evaluation law that tied student performance to teacher pay.