Legislative Update: Florida's Testing Bills
As the Florida legislative session is underway, there are two education bills, Senate Bill 616 and House Bill 7069, which hope to address some of the major school assessment, teacher performance evaluations, and accountability concerns that have been expressed by education stakeholders across the state.
Comparing the Two Bills:
The two bills are similar in that they focus on eliminating unnecessary assessments, such as the 11th grade Florida Standards Assessment for English Language Arts and locally administered end-of-course assessments when the subject or grade level is already measured by a statewide, standardized end-of-course assessment. Another goal of both bills is to streamline and communicate a uniform testing calendar with specific details about assessments required at the state and district level at least two years out from the time published.
Both bills also discuss accountability and the impact of student performance on instructional personnel and school administrator's evaluations. Both SB 616 and HB 7069 propose a decrease in the amount of the teacher performance evaluation tied to student performance, adjusting the measure from approximately 50% to about a third of the evaluation.
To read a detailed side-by-side comparison of the two bills, click here.
SB 616's Proposed Cap on Assessment Time
One of the distinguishing factors between the two bills is that Senate Bill 616 aims to set a cap on the total school hours during which statewide assessments and district-required local assessments can be administered to a maximum of five percent of school time, per student, per year.
There are a few exceptions to the five percent threshold noted in the bill, which include additional time allowed for accommodations for ELL and ESE students as well as for students who choose to take an examination for postsecondary education purposes (AP, IB, AICE exams) or for workforce development (industry certification exams).
What will be the impact of this proposed change?
To explore the possible impact of this change it is important to know what percentage of school time school districts are currently using for state and locally-administered assessments. Click here to view our latest What's New visualization which compares Florida's school districts based on the assessment information and percent of time they reported on a recent Florida Department of Education survey about testing time for our students.
These bills are moving quickly through the legislature. HB 7069 was passed on Wednesday, March 18th with a 115-0 vote in the House. SB 616 still has a few stops to make before making it to the Senate floor but has been reviewed by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education (7-1 approval on March 19th) and will be moving next to the Committee on Appropriations.
To track SB 616 through its next steps, click here.
Interested in the topic of assessment and advocating for our students? Join us on March 30th for our ONE by ONE Public Education Forum: New Standards, New Test to let your voice be heard. Register now!
-- Kelly Scott