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FSA testing will end in Florida after this school year, DeSantis says

Governor Ron DeSantis in Clearwater for FSA announcement
Posted at 10:31 AM, Sep 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-15 08:42:14-04

CLEARWATER, Fla. — This will be the last school year for Florida Standards Assessments (FSA) testing in the state of Florida, Governor DeSantis announced Tuesday morning.

The governor called the FSA test ineffective and said it takes days to administer and cannot be personalized.

Instead, he says it will be replaced by progress monitoring three times per year with shorter tests, which he says can be administered in hours. The new program, the Florida Assessment of Student Thinking (F.A.S.T) plan will monitor student progress and foster individual growth, according to DeSantis.

In a press release, the governor's office said Florida will become the first state to fully implement progress monitoring in place of end-of-year standardized testing and fully eliminate common core. The release also said the new plan would reduce test time by 75%.

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Governor DeSantis made the announcement at High Point Elementary School in Clearwater where he said students are benefitting from utilizing the progress-monitoring approach. The school, where every student is considered to come from an economically disadvantaged family, used progress monitoring tools to track the students’ growth. After working tirelessly throughout the school year, High Point Elementary was able to improve their grade from a D to a C.

Cassandra Vigil, a Clearwater 5th grade teacher is excited about the potential change telling ABC Action News, “I’m just relieved that we will get the time back to actually focus on what we should be focused on and tracking them in the way that’s best for you them not just blank slate for everybody.”

Nancy Velardi, the head of the Pinellas County Classroom Teachers Association added, “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.”

The Florida Education Association favored the move, saying it would free up time for genuine teaching and learning. School districts have also been weighing in on the governor's decision announced Tuesday morning. (Those comments can be found at the end of this story)

“We appreciate that Commissioner Corcoran and the Florida Department of Education are listening on this issue and are reducing the amount of standardized testing in Florida’s schools,” said FEA President Andrew Spar. “The FEA looks forward to continuing to work on how Florida assesses K-12 students and teachers, so we can get it right in the long term. This is a great opportunity to address how we can use progress monitoring assessments to best serve students.”

Officials at the press conference said in the current system, April and May in schools are reserved almost exclusively for testing. They also called the FSA antiquated.

The 2022-23 school year will be the first without FSA testing.

School District Responses:

Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent Addison Davis:

“I am excited that the state is taking the first big step in eliminating high stakes testing. Moving to a progress monitoring design will allow teachers to evaluate, in real time, student mastery of grade-level standards. As an organization, we are proud of the fact that our teachers already engage this model to most effectively inform instructional focus. Hillsborough County Public Schools looks forward to learning more as the state refines this new innovative approach.” Superintendent Addison Davis

Manatee County Schools Superintendent Cynthia Saunders:

“Our school district has been actively working to make the transition to the Florida Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking (B.E.S.T.) standards since 2020 when they were adopted by the Florida Department of Education. We will continue that work and we look forward to learning more about exactly how the BEST standards will be implemented and monitored.”

Hernando County Schools Superintendent John Stratton:

"This is an encouraging step. Educators have embraced progress monitoring as the most reliable measure of learning growth. When taken in snapshots throughout the school year, students can see their own growth, parents can understand the data and teachers can remediate in real time. The Governor’s decision returns more time for instruction and allows students to show their learning over time. That’s a win for kids."

Citrus County School District Superintendent Sandra "Sam" Himmel:

"We thank Governor DeSantis for his bold vision in eliminating the last traces of Common Core. We've always known that a single summative test score, like FSA, should never carry so much weight. Our schools struggle with utilizing the data to drive instruction when they are only administered at the end of the school year. Our governor recognizes the value of progress monitoring assessments that our teachers utilize to improve teaching and learning throughout the school year. We look forward to watching this bill make its way through legislation and seeing it implemented next school year."

Polk County Schools: