Democrats want a three-year pause on statewide school testingby John Kennedy | February 27th, 2014
Democratic lawmakers are looking to hit the pause button on Florida’s student testing, school grading and plans to tie teacher pay to student performance, with legislation introduced Thursday calling for a three-year moratorium.
The proposals by Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, and Rep. Joe Saunders, D-Orlando, come only a few weeks before Education Commissioners Pam Stewart is set to announce a new system for evaluating students, schools and teachers that would succeed the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT).
Gov. Rick Scott last year demanded that the state abandon the testing system that was intended to succeed FCAT because it was closely tied to the Common Core Standards, the evaluation Florida and more than 40 other states are implementing.
Common Core will be put in place beginning this fall. But Montford and Saunders say the current, hurry-up attempt to devise a Florida-specific testing system that would evaluate Common Core this year risks wide-ranging failure, affecting schools, kids and teacher pay.
They want to wait. Although as Democrats in the Florida Legislature, Saunders and Montford are vastly outnumbered, they might find some allies on the Republican right, which has advocated scrapping Common Core.
Palm Beach County and a number of other school boards are pushing for a delay in the new testing regimen.
“Unless public confidence is restored, the entire system is at risk and we would forfeit the gains we’ve made in closing the learning gap and preparing our students to be college and career ready,” Saunders said. “I believe this bill gives us the time we need to build an accountability system that is unlike any other in the country.”