Florida School Boards Association Takes On Testing Issue
In the wake of a recent move by one school district to become a testing refusenik, the Florida School Boards Association is considering calls to demand a halt to state-mandated testing in all districts, and to create a policy that lets students bypass testing with no consequences.
At its meeting on Friday, the state school boards group heard a motion by Jeanne Dozier, a school board member from Lee County, which made national headlines last last month by opting out of all state-mandated testing. It rescinded that vote six days later, when one board member had a change of heart. But the issue is still hot there, and in a couple of other Florida districts. Miami, too, is debating changes in the way test results are used.
Dozier's original motion asked the FSBA to "compel the state" to:
Adopt a comprehensive opt-out policy that would allow parents to have their students excused, without penalty, from statewide standardized or state-required assessments;
Bring an immediate halt to the practice of using statewide standardized or state-required assessment results for anything other than diagnostic purposes.
After discussion and debate, a revised version included a third option: Demanding that the state create "a well-defined alternative pathway for students to demonstrate progress and proficiency."
The final motion was referred to the association's legislative committee to be considered for inclusion in its 2015 legislative platform, Wayne Blanton, the FSBA's executive director, told me. That committee meets on Oct. 24. The full board meets again in early December, and will consider the legislative committee's recommendations then, Blanton said.
As Florida officials have pointed out, there is currently no feature in state law that allows parents to excuse their children from taking state-mandated tests. The Florida School Boards Association has on its website a 10-page list of consequences that students, schools, or districts could experience if they refuse to give—or students refuse to take—state tests.
It's not only state-required tests that are coming under fire, either. Most districts require a range of their own tests, as well. As we reported to you earlier this year, that burden can be quite hefty, depending on the district. The Fort Myers News-Press, which has been covering the opt-out activity in its local Lee County, published a graphic that breaks down the layers of tests required there.