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Florida PTA Urges State to Make Changes to School Accountability System

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As the debate surrounding Florida's school accountability system heats up, the state's leading parent organization is seeking changes in how assessments are used to grade schools and teachers.

The Florida PTA issued a press release this week asking lawmakers and state Department of Education officials for the following:

  • Proper field-testing and test development in areas that mirror Florida's diverse demographics;
  • A suspension of school letter grades until performance data is more reliable;
  • Additional testing and more flexible student performance calculations for students with disabilities and English-language learners; and
  • Use of multiple years of a new exam as the baseline for generating school grades and teacher evaluations.

Mindy Haas, the president of the Florida PTA, told me in an email that parents are becoming increasingly concerned about the Sunshine State's educational accountability system.

"We believe the changes we have suggested are fair and reasonable," Haas wrote. "It has already opened a dialogue between parents and our elected officials, which is the first step to creating change."

Some Florida parents aren't waiting for lawmakers to act. Instead, according to Florida Today, a group called Opt Out Brevard urged Brevard County School Board members in Melbourne, Fla., Sept. 22 to develop a protocol parents could follow if they don't want their children to participate in state testing. Board members did not immediately act on that request. According to the story, board members did, however, encourage the public to pressure lawmakers to make changes to the state's assessment system.

Meanwhile, incoming House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, a Republican,  told the Tampa Bay Times this week that establishing an opt-out process for parents would ultimately hurt the state's ability to follow through with its constitutional duty to provide students with a "high quality education."

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