Senate passes bill to replace FSA, a Gov. DeSantis priority

Lawmakers say the bill is a good start, but they're not done.

Students could soon say goodbye to the Florida Standards Assessment, a rare issue that unifies teachers, students, and Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The Senate voted unanimously Thursday to pass legislation (SB 1048) that would replace the annual standardized testing with a computer-based progress monitoring screening in English language arts and mathematics. The progress monitoring, spaced three times a year, would begin in the 2022-23 school year for students in pre-kindergarten through 10th grade.

Hialeah Republican Sen. Manny Díaz Jr. sponsors the bill, which originated after DeSantis rolled out the proposal in September.

Students would take more strategic tests three times during the school year, with the first two intended to give students, teachers and parents guidance on how to work on the students’ weaknesses. The final “summative” test, late in the school year, would still provide results in time for students to be able to use summer school to meet standards.

The bill also places a cap on class time dedicated to state testing at 5%.

West Park Democratic Sen. Shevrin Jones said lawmakers have been eyeing “over testing” for a while now. While saying the bill isn’t perfect, he expressed his support for the measure.

“It is definitely a start of something that we should definitely get behind,” Jones said. “I know parents on both sides of the aisle, and even parents inside this room, are questioning and sick of the amount of testing that we’re doing.”

Díaz also said lawmakers aren’t done.

“This is a process that is beginning at the 30,000-foot level, and there’s going to be a lot of work to do,” Díaz said.

When DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran unveiled the proposal, the Governor called progress monitoring a big priority for the administration. The bill also builds off of legislation passed last year that created progress monitoring between kindergarten and eighth grade. This year’s measure extends the progress monitoring to grades nine and 10.

Department of Education Senior Chancellor Jacob Oliva, who oversees the department’s public school operations, told a House subcommittee last month that the quick turnaround time for progress monitoring results will keep parents, teachers and students informed of students’ learning progress in real-time.

“It’s going to help drive instruction, and then that end-of-year summative assessment’s not a surprise,” Oliva said. “We should know how the students are doing and we should be able to provide opportunities for acceleration.”

The House version (HB 1193), sponsored by Orlando Republican Rep. Rene Plasencia, has graduated through the House committee process. Both Díaz and Plasencia are former teachers and coaches.

Ahead of the 2022 Session, Plasencia told Florida Politics the likeliest opposition is from people who want to see the reform go further. His prediction has appeared to come true.

Democrats in the House have mostly aligned themselves against the bill during the committee process, arguing the bill still creates high-stakes testing.

Teachers’ unions, notably the Florida Education Association, support the change.

If approved, the legislation would take effect in July.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


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