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Will Florida's standardized testing bill keep rolling along?

As hard as it may be to believe, the clock is ticking on the current legislation session, such that lawmakers in Tallahassee only have until next Friday to address the state budget and a range of other extremely important topics.

Of course, one of the crucial topics requiring legislative attention is education, an area that has seen a host of bills offered and advanced over the last several months. One of the more notable education bills to be considered in the waning days of the session is Senate Bill 926, which is designed to reduce standardized testing requirements or "over-testing." However, it has recently been the source of some controversy.

To recap, SB 926, if passed and signed into law by Governor Rick Scott, would require school districts in the Sunshine State to take the following steps regarding standardized testing:

  • Administer exams later in the year
  • Abolish the requirement that high school students must take four end-of-course tests
  • Permit students high school students who earn high marks on college entrance exams or other advanced exams to skip some tests

Where the aforementioned controversy concerning SB 926 comes in is that even though it passed the Senate Rules Committee unanimously last week, it only did so after picking up several amendments, becoming what is known as a "train."     

In legislative parlance, a train is eleventh hour legislation that sees different proposals mashed together in order to facilitate passage of one or more ideas. Critics say these trains not only serve to jeopardize the foundational legislation to which amendments attach, but also lack transparency.

The amendments added to SP 926 include the following:

  • A provision calling for elementary schools to provide students with 100 minutes of "free-play recess" per week and at least 20 minutes per day
  • A provision calling for a roll back on teacher bonus caps
  • A provision calling for high school students in varsity sports to be exempt from the physical education test
  • A provision calling for excused absences for treatment of autism-spectrum disorders

It will be interesting to see what happens in the days ahead and whether Florida's standardized testing process sees any real change.

Stay tuned for developments …

Consider speaking with a skilled legal professional if you are a parent or teacher with questions or concerns relating to an education law matter.

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