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Gov. Ron DeSantis calls for end to FSA standardized tests

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 11:06 AM EDT
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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday called for an end to the Florida Standards Assessments, calling the system "outdated."

The Florida Standards Assessments are standardized tests in reading, writing, and math that are designed to measure student performance.

Speaking at Doral Academy Preparatory School on Tuesday, DeSantis said the FSA will be replaced by monitoring student progress three times a year.

"We believe that having results monitored and measured is very, very important. But we also think that the FSA is outmoded at this point and that we need to move forward with a more, I'd say, nimble and effective approach," DeSantis said.

DeSantis said state lawmakers are currently crafting legislation and the goal is to phase out FSA by the 2022/23 school year.

Justin Katz, the president of the Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers Association, released the following statement to WPTV about the governor's announcement:

"We are reviewing the decision and have no detailed comments at this time, other than to say any reduction in the overuse of standardized testing that detracts from legitimate instructional time and actual education is a plus."

Test results from the 2021 FSA and End-Of-Course Exams dropped significantly in math, science, and social studies from two years ago -- before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic -- according to data from the Florida Department of Education.

If you compare FSA test scores from 2019 to 2021, test scores in Palm Beach County dropped in every category except civics where it stayed the same at 62%

The new form of short tests proposed by the governor would monitor progress three times a year to give schools the opportunities to assess and improve.

If you ask parents to describe what they think about the FSA exams, many aren't in support.

"It’s a lot of anxiety, a lot of stress," said Dr. Rhonda Trust.

"I don’t agree with these testings, I'm ecstatic that he’s doing away with them," said Laura Barber.

Barber said it’s possible the changes students faced due to COVID-19 is to blame for a drop in test scores this year. This spring, her daughter failed her English Language Arts FSA test by two points.

"Ironically her AP test that she had, she flew. She passed with flying colors, so it doesn’t seem to make sense," Barber said.

Every school district in our area saw test scores drop in math and English Language Arts except Okeechobee County schools, where language arts scores from third to tenth grades increased six points. Indian River County schools saw some improvements in science and history.

"For teachers having to teach around a test, sometimes it limits creativity in the classroom," said Trust.

Trust is a college professor and has three children in the public school system. She said just the amount of time testing is consuming is concerning.

30 days -- an entire month between April and May -- were spent on testing English Language Arts, math, and science in grades four through 10 this year. The governor’s new plan for progress monitoring promises 75% less testing time and exams that take hours and not days to be administered.

The new progress monitoring would also be customizable and unique to each student.

"I have some amazing students that are not achieving the highest scores in SATs or GREs but their classroom performance and the measures that we use in class, the assessments that we use in class every quarter, or a few times a semester, in my opinion as an educator those are more valid," Trust said.

Scripps Only Content 2021