The Florida House plans to move quickly on its testing bill, leaders said Thursday.
"We're going to try to get this to the floor as soon as we possibly can so we can alleviate all of the stress and uncertainty in the field," House Education Committee Chairwoman Marlene O'Toole said.
Her goal: to ensure "the teachers can teach, the students can learn, and the parents can be assured that we know what we're doing."
The 70-page draft proposal is similar to the version in the Senate. It eliminates a new 11th grade language arts exam, removes the requirement that school districts test every student in every subject, and reduces the extent to which student test performance factors into teacher pay.
It also gives local school districts the flexibility to start school as early as August 10. (Current law says school may start no earlier than two weeks before Labor Day.)
The House education panel took some testimony on the proposal Thursday morning.
Orange County Schools lobbyist Scott Howat called the bill "an excellent start," but raised questions related to this week's bungled administration of new online tests.
"We know students are rushing through the process, and they are trying to get their work done quickly, thinking they could get kicked off, they could lose their work..." Howat said. "There are some things we could look at, [such as] should we use this as a baseline year or a beta year?"
O'Toole said schools would still be graded based on student performance, though they would not be penalized.
"That is the position at this point in time," she said. "We are going to grade the schools just so we can see where we are at."
The committee plans to vote on the bill Monday.
The House Education panel also heard from state Education Commissioner Pam Stewart, who the software problems plaguing the new Florida Standards Assessment had been resolved. She noted that testing was ahead of schedule.
"We expect everyone to be completed by the end of next week," she said.
Florida Association of District Schools Superintendents lobbyist Joy Frank noted that some large school systems were still facing intermittent problems. "These are problems that will be resolved," she said. "I'm confident about that."