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Fewer better tests. Maybe?

February 15th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

Fewer better tests is the goal of legislation introduced by some of the legislatures heavy hitters in education at the state Capitol today. But as Mike Vasilinda tells us, it comes too late to help students and parents this year and likely next.

As students and parents prepare for this years high stakes Florida Student Assessment test, a group of state lawmakers says they have heard parents. The legislation would move the test to the end of May, which Sponsor Chris Sprowls says students would have a years worth of knowledge before being tested.

“A survey of over four hundred teachers, nearly eighty percent said it would be helpful if we had  this calendar moved back to the end of the year” says Sprowls.

Parents and teachers have voiced complaints for more than a decade, but lawmakers have refused to budge..until now. What’s changed is the questionable validity of a test developed in Utah, and online technology that makes grading faster. Patricia Levesque from the Foundation for Florida’s Future praised the depth of the testing ability.

“If you’ve seen the questions, they are really interactive. They re able to test and measure at a much deeper level in a much quicker amount of time” says Levesque.

While Florida is considered a model for testing, it’s unique test has been apples and oranges when trying to compare results to other states. Rep. Manny Diaz (R-hialeah) says the  legislation would begin looking at standardized national tests.

“If we were to decided we wanted to change the test, could we use the SAT and ACT effectively?” asks Diaz.

The current test contractor has another year left on it’s contract. Then it will be rebid, which means change will not come quickly.

Sen. Anitere Flores (R-Miami) says change before the 2017-18 school year is unlikely.

“It might be a year before we see some of these real work effects to in. I’d love for it to be sooner.”

The legislation also seeks to lower the number of tests given by local districts in an effort to give teachers and students more time learning and less time prepping for a test.

If the change is approved, grades would be available in the summer, and given to teachers for the fall school year.

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