After a year that saw parents rise up against standardized testing, Florida lawmakers on Wednesday said they are prepared to improve the state’s assessment program.
"We have a chance to do a rewrite so we can ensure that we are not over-testing our children, and ensure that we provide a road map to the districts about how to do this,” said Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs.
Lawmakers floated a number of ideas. Among them:
•Reducing the overall number of state-mandated exams.
•Eliminating repetitive tests.
•Allowing some national tests, such as the Advanced Placement exams, to stand in the place of state-mandated tests.
•Providing districts with more flexibility on how to assess students.
Lawmakers also discussed districts' readiness for the new Florida Standards Assessment, which launch this year. Several school districts have said they lack the technology needed to give the computer-based tests — and have turned to the legislature for help.
While it is unlikely lawmakers that can make any changes before the testing cycle begins in the spring, they intend to act quickly, Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Don Gaetz said.
"We don’t have a year or two to study this," said Gaetz, R-Niceville. "Any kind of clean up that we need, or simplification we need in testing and assessment, should have been addressed by now. We’re in the fourth quarter."