JACKSONVILLE, Florida — Gov. Ron DeSantis announced public schools in Florida will no longer administer end-of-year state testing and will instead rely on year-round monitoring to assess student progress.
At a press conference with state education officials in Clearwater, DeSantis also defended his decision to ban mask mandates and keep schools open, citing new data that show a decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state.
“We continue to see the numbers decline,” DeSantis, a Republican, said, citing pandemic statistics from Florida's health department. “Our admissions have been the lowest they’ve been since about the middle of July.”
DeSantis is locked in a court battle over mask mandates in schools. The governor has imposed fines on school board members who impose the mandates, and the matter is now under a court challenge.
On Tuesday, DeSantis ended another mandate by eliminating a decades-old requirement that public schools administer the Florida Standards Assessment to all students in April of each year.
The assessments measure student progress in math, English, and other critical skills, but they have grown unpopular because they require weeks of classroom preparation that displaces other learning.
“Yes, we're going to continue to make sure that we're measuring results having high standards,” DeSantis said. “We're going to do it in a way that's more student-friendly, parent-friendly, and teacher-friendly. There's going to be more feedback. There's going to be more individualized assessments that are going to be possible.”
The move is likely to draw criticism from those who say the FSA is an important tool for measuring student progress and ensuring that those who graduate are proficient in core skills such as reading, writing, and math.
Most states implement some form of statewide testing.
DeSantis said the education department is likely to standardize the progress monitoring already in place in most of the schools, saying that it “is going to save a lot of time. It’s going to provide more opportunity for learning. It’s going to save money.”
The Florida governor's pandemic policies have been widely criticized in recent weeks as the state’s hospitalization and death rates have climbed.
DeSantis said Tuesday that his move to provide wider access to monoclonal antibody therapy by expanding treatment sites is helping to reduce hospitalizations and that there is no evidence that opening schools or ending mask mandates has negatively affected the state’s COVID-19 numbers.
“You bring millions of kids back into the classroom, and the numbers are going down,” DeSantis said. “So, it just shows that school should never be targeted for closure or any of this stuff with respect to COVID.”
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Original Author: Susan Ferrechio
Original Location: DeSantis dumps standardized testing in Florida schools