Gov. Ron DeSantis has announced plans to end annual standardized testing in schools, a move long backed by educators.
The Republican Governor on Tuesday called for a bill to replace the Florida Standards Assessment with progress monitoring for the 2022-23 school year. He called it one of his top priorities for the upcoming 2022 Legislative Session.
“The FSA is, quite frankly, outdated,” DeSantis told reporters in Doral.
Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran similarly called the system “antiquated.”
On Twitter, the Governor’s Office called the move “the final step to end Common Core in Florida.”
New progress tests, known as the Florida Assessments of Student Thinking or F.A.S.T., would be customizable to each student, take a quarter of the time and relay information back to teachers and parents within hours. That data would be made available throughout the school year, rather than over the summer, keeping accountability in place. There would be three progress monitoring periods throughout the year.
The Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union that has clashed with DeSantis in the past, called his announcement a major one. The union expressed their support in a tweet with the message, “Goodbye FSA.”
Progress monitoring would free up time for teaching, which the union said it and its 150,000 members have long advocated. The next school year could be a “benchmark” year, according to the union.
“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,” FEA President Andrew Spar said in a statement. “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.”
Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho also took to Twitter to express support for the Governor’s plan.
“Fewer, better state assessments with greater reliance on ongoing, real-time progress monitoring data enable timely academic recalibration opportunities that are right for Florida’s kids,” Carvalho said.
The Florida Council of 100, a nonprofit to promote economic growth, said the changes would provide “meaningful improvements” to student learning in the state.
“This move will help close Florida’s rigor gap by providing parents and teachers a stronger sense of student comprehension and learning throughout the school year,” Bob Ward, the group’s executive director, said. “By offering three smaller assessments throughout the year, Governor DeSantis is empowering our schools to further tailor instruction based on a student’s learning needs.”
FSA had a rocky rollout in the spring of 2015 and has been under scrutiny ever since.
Eliminating standardized tests have long been a goal of Democrats. Florida has had high-stakes testing in place since Republican Gov. Jeb Bush‘s education overhaul.
“This is a big deal,” DeSantis said. “This will be a big part of what we’re trying to do next Legislative Session.”
Lawmakers have not yet filed legislation following the Governor’s outline.
“I think we’re going to get a lot of support for it, and I’m confident we’re going to get it done,” DeSantis said.
Committee meetings for the 2022 Session begin Monday. The 60-day Legislative Session opens Jan. 11.
Throughout his term, DeSantis has driven education reforms, like raising salaries for teachers. He has also signed bills to improve civics education and pushed for alternatives to four-year degrees at higher education institutions.
Speaking in Clearwater Tuesday afternoon, DeSantis likened degrees that don’t lead to job opportunities as “degrees in zombie studies.”
One controversial measure he signed last year prohibits the state Board of Education and Board of Governors from shielding students, staff and faculty from certain speech, namely speech from particular ideologies. Additionally, the bill requires those academic governing bodies to annually survey the viewpoints of college and university professors “to assess the status of intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity.”