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DeSantis announces end to FSA testing in Florida schools

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks in Doral, Florida, Sept. 14.
Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks in Doral, Florida, Sept. 14.(The Florida Channel)
Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 11:42 AM EDT
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DORAL, Fla. (WWSB) - Florida will end standardized testing in the form of the Florida Standards Assessment, which evaluates students in language arts and math each year, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday.

He made the announcement at a private preparatory school in Miami-Dade county, alongside Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran.

DeSantis said he will be crafting legislation to end the FSA. Currently, students in grades 3–10 take the English Language Arts FSA; students in grades 3–8 take the Mathematics FSA. The tests generally take several weeks to administer and cause major shifts in school schedules during testing.

DeSantis said instead of testing, schools will use what he called progress monitoring, individualized assessments for each student done three times a year. “We need to measure results, we will continue to so it, we will continue to set high standards,” DeSantis said. “But we also have to recognize that this is the year 2021 and the FSA is, quite frankly, outdated.”

“In April and May, we shut down schools for testing … this will allow more teaching, and better education,” said Corcoran.

At the news conference, Sarah Hall, 2020 Seminole County Public Schools Teacher of the Year, said she used progress monitoring when she taught kindergarten and first grade students, who don’t takes FSA tests. “I relied solely on progress monitoring data. This allowed me to not only meet the needs of my students that had some learning deficits but provide meaningful enrichment as well,” she said.

She also said parents appreciated the timely feedback. “We had had more focused, more precise projection for student achievement which led to zero caregiver surprises.”

The Florida Education Association, which represents 150,000 teachers in Florida, applauded the announcement on Twitter this morning. “It will free up time for genuine teaching and learning, a move that the FEA, local unions & our 150,000 members have long advocated,” it said.

“A student’s future shouldn’t hang on one high-stakes, make-or-break test, and one test shouldn’t dominate weeks that could otherwise be used for meaningful instruction,” FEA President Andrew Spar said. “We welcome today’s announcement as a sign that Florida is moving closer to a system that focuses on students’ growth instead of on high-stakes standardized tests.”

Spar said the FSA is scheduled to be given as normal this school year, 2021-2022. The FSA will not be administered in 2022-2023. ‘As our districts move away from the FSA, the 2022-2023 school year will serve as a ‘benchmark’ year to determine how children are assessed,” he said in a news release.

The Florida Legislature will need to pass legislation officially ending the FSA; the next session is set for March 2022.

- Some information from WCTV in Tallahassee was used in this report.

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