Florida's Biggest District Cuts Nearly All End-of-Course Exams
The Miami-Dade school district has decided to drop all but 10 of the 300 end-of-course exams that used to be a state requirement.
The move last Thursday by the biggest district in Florida, and the fifth largest in the country, reflects growing national discontent with the burden of assessment on students. A week earlier, Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a new law giving districts more power over their testing regimens. Previously, state law required Florida districts to create end-of-course exams for every subject not covered by statewide assessments.
The new law, House Bill 7069, also dumps Florida's 11th grade English/language arts test, and puts a cap on the number of hours students can spend on state tests.
According to The Miami Herald, the cutback means that elementary students won't have any final exams, and tests in subjects like music and physical education will be dropped. The district will only give 10 end-of-course tests now, and only to a randomly chosen pool of students, as a field test. Teachers can still decide, though, whether they'll give tests of their own design.The reduction comes in the wake of rising parent opposition to testing, and, more recently, technological problems administering Florida's new common-core-aligned assessments.
Texas, too, is moving closer to easing some testing requirements. Last week, the House approved a measure that would allow thousands of high school seniors to skip end-of-course exams this year. The Dallas News reports that the bill now returns to the Senate, which had passed a similar measure last month.As we reported when the Senate approved the bill, SB149, Texas law requires students to pass five tests, but the proposed measure would let them pass three as long as they prove subject mastery in all their core classes in other ways, such as good grades. Graduation committees made up of a parent, a teacher and principal would also have to review students' records before they could graduate.
Critics of the proposed bill worry that rather than allowing students to demonstrate high levels of mastery in various ways, it would reinstate social promotion. In a major move two years ago, Texas reduced from 15 to five the number of tests high school students had to take to graduate.