Following his ban on mask mandates at Florida schools, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis announced another controversial decision impacting students across the state.
According to the Washington Examiner, an announcement on Tuesday signaled that the governor would be dropping yearly standardized testing requirements from schools.
“There’s going to be more feedback”
The Florida Standards Assessment had been administered to students each April, but DeSantis is now directing schools to monitor progress year-round using existing methods. The Florida Education Association also approved of the change, the Examiner noted.
Although standardized testing is common in most states, critics have argued that some students are disadvantaged when taking tests. Furthermore, preparation can cut into regular class time as teachers focus on how to take the test and covering material that will be included therein.
Of course, proponents of such testing say the benchmarks are useful in measuring progress and ensuring students are proficient in key areas of study.
For his part, the governor insisted that the state would “continue to make sure that we’re measuring results having high standards” in the absence of standardized testing.
“We’re going to do it in a way that’s more student-friendly, parent-friendly, and teacher-friendly,” DeSantis declared, as the Examiner reported. “There’s going to be more feedback. There’s going to be more individualized assessments that are going to be possible.”
“More opportunity for learning”
Additionally, the governor said his plan “is going to save a lot of time” while also providing “more opportunity for learning” and “saving money.”
The current school year will be the last to utilize such testing, DeSantis said. Beginning next year, a new plan called the Florida Assessment of Student Thinking will be implemented, which will use shorter assessments administered over a few hours rather than over the span of several days.
Not only does the new plan set out to reduce testing time by 75%, but it will also eliminate common core standards from the state’s curriculum. One Clearwater elementary school has already implemented the new system and it appears to have improved student performance across the board.
Fifth-grade teacher Cassandra Vigil said she is “relieved” that her students will now be able to “actually focus on what we should be focused on” instead of gearing everyone toward the “blank slate” of standardized tests.
Nancy Velardi of the Pinellas County Classroom Teachers Association agreed, adding: “We’ve been asking for this to go away. It is an inappropriate judge of our students’ abilities and certainly not a fair accountability for our teachers. It’s great news. Wonderful news.”