A Florida House panel took one step closer to cutting back on testing by passing legislation to curb standardized testing in the Sunshine State.
On Tuesday, the Florida House PreK-12 Quality Subcommittee passed HB 773, which would limit standardized testing in Florida.
The proposal, dubbed the “Fewer, Better Tests” legislation, would would move testing to the end of the school year and shorten the testing window from nine weeks to three weeks. The FSA is currently administered during the springtime.
HB 773 would also require Florida Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart to review both the SAT and ACT tests to determine whether or not their results could be used in place of the Florida Standards Assessment.
If passed, the bill would also ensure teachers get their students’ standardized testing results in a timely manner. District-level assessment results would be given to teachers within a week of administration.
HB 773’s sponsor, Rep. Manny Diaz, Jr., R-Hialeah, told Sunshine State News Tuesday’s vote was a boon not only to the bill’s future, but to the future of education in Florida as well.
“It's encouraging that we have bipartisan support to address this key issue affecting our students and teachers,” he said.
Florida Coalition of School Board Members president Shawn Frost told SSN he was hopeful about the legislation's future.
"We are very pleased to see this pass its first committee stop with unanimous bipartisan support so that teachers can teach students can learn and parents can receive feedback that helps their child achieve," he said.
Diaz’s bill hasn’t been met without criticism, though. T
Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, who sponsors rival legislation to eliminate certain tests in Florida, slammed the “Fewer, Better Tests” proposal for being ineffective and essentially “doing nothing” to actually eliminate testing in Florida.
"That bill has great talking points, but if you read it, it does nothing," said Lee. "And it's very, very important that we have legislation that matches our talking points, and that when we go home and we say we did something to effect change, that we actually did that."
The testing debate has long been a source of controversy in Florida. Once lauded by many as the key to education reform in Florida under Gov. Jeb Bush, state lawmakers have pushed back against excessive testing in recent years.
A similar proposal was pushed in the Senate last year, but that bill didn’t receive much traction and died during the legislative session.
The stars could easily align for the measure this year, since Diaz chairs the Pre-K-12 Education Appropriations Subcommittee.
Sen. Anitere Flores, who sponsors the Senate companion bill, also wields power in the Senate as President pro tempore and is committed to scaling back testing. Cosponsor Rep. Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, currently serves as the House Judiciary Committee chairman, which could aid the bill as it moves through the legislature this year.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.