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Politics

Florida Education Saturated in Tests, Say Rick Scott and Pam Stewart

February 17, 2015 - 6:00pm

Gov. Rick Scott and Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart tag-teamed to crack down on what they see as too much testing in Floridas school system on Tuesday, with Scott promising to issue an executive order to lessen testing for some of the states students.

Scott said Wednesday he would issue an executive order to suspend the 11th grade Florida Standards Assessment for English language -- but the suspension would only be temporary until legislation is enacted to make the assessment optional.

Its important to measure students progress and achievements, but we must not lose sight of our goal to provide every student with the very best education, said Scott. As I have traveled the state, I have heard from parents and teachers that there are too many tests and I agree.

According to a release from the governors office, the executive order will be made into law during this years legislative session.

Stewart and the Florida Department of Education had been investigating the states standardized testing process throughout Florida,using district-level assessments to better get a better understanding of the the number, frequency, and purpose of testing throughout the state. The department also looked to see whether local assessments were already assessed by a statewide standardized test.

There is, without a doubt, an excess of testing in Florida schools, said Stewart Wednesday.

Stewarts ultimate recommendation comes after opposition against high-stakes testing has grown louder statewide. Ever since Stewart took over as Commissioner, she has dealt with backlash over the states transition to the Common Core State Standards as well as the states new assessment test, the Florida State Assessment.

Scott and Stewart also pledged to eliminate local end-of-year exams in subjects which are already being tested by a statewide assessment, like Algebra 1, Geometry and U.S. History.

The move is the latest in what seems to be an attempt to placate concerns over the current affairs of the states education system, which has faced heavy criticism in the wake of a new set of education standards. In 2013, the department held public forums to allow public input over Common Core -- this year, the department will be forming a special committee to take a closer look at the Florida Standards as well as Floridas new statewide test.

But opponents of high-stakes testing werent entirely convinced by Wednesdays announcement.

Robert Schaeffer, Public Education Director of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) said Scotts order was a small step in the right direction, but explained the recommendations didnt go far enough to fully address the problem of overtesting in schools.

Suspending a few state-mandated exams and encouraging districts to follow suit will still leave Florida public schools dominated by testing overkill, he said. Curriculum will remain narrowed to the limited content of the exams. The massive amounts of time devoted to test prep will barely be reduced. Scores will continue to be misused to make unsound decisions about students, educators and schools.


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