Seeking to ease the pressure on schoolchildren — and quell the growing backlash from parents — the Florida House voted unanimously Wednesday to scale back testing in public schools.
The proposal (HB 7069) eliminates an 11th-grade English test and a requirement that local school districts create tests in every subject not covered by the new Florida Standards Assessment.
It also allows the school year to begin as early as August 10.
"The purpose of this is for us to be able to continue our improvement," said House Education Committee Chairwoman Marlene O’Toole, R-Lady Lake.
The House declined, however, to suspend school grades during the transition to new standards and assessments, as superintendents, teachers and parents had requested.
Lawmakers also rejected a proposal supported by parents that would have given all students the option to take pencil-and-paper tests.
"We had an opportunity to do more and we failed to do that," said Rep. Mia Jones, D-Jacksonville.
The state Senate is also considering a plan to scale back testing (SB 616), though it contains significant differences.
For one, the Senate version limits the amount of time students can spend on state-mandated tests. It also allows school districts to use this year's FSA scores for diagnostic purposes only in light of widespread technical problems.
Testing has been a hot-button issue in recent months, with parents across the state saying Florida’s testing program puts too much stress on students.
The outcry has only grown louder since software problems and an alleged cyber attack plagued this month’s roll out of the new web-based Florida Standards Assessments.