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State extends FSA student testing window

By MEGHAN BRADBURY - | Feb 25, 2021

The Commissioner of Education, earlier this month, extended the testing period for the Florida Standards Assessment by two weeks to ensure every student is tested safely.

Each subject has been extended by two weeks.

Grade 3 English Language Arts and Reading will be tested April 5 through 30; grades 4 through 10 writing will be tested April 5 through 30, grades 4-6 ELA, grades 3-6 math and grades 5 and 8 science will be tested May 3 through May 28 and grades 7 through 10 ELA, math and EOC will be tested May 3 through June 11.

Safety conditions related to COVID is driving the change.

According to the Department of Education Order No. 2021-EO-01 “All 67 county school districts, all state university laboratory schools and the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind opened for in-person instruction, so that nearly 65 percent of Florida’s public school students, approximately 1.85 million, are learning in person.”

The order went on to say that the “disproportionate numbers of educationally disadvantaged students learning off-campus, or not attending school at all, and achievement gaps potentially being exacerbated, the testing that is required by state and federal law is now more critical than ever, so that educators and parents can measure progress and determine what additional services and supports are needed to ensure that each student is given the services and supports they need to succeed in life.”

Florida Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran issued the order to expand the statewide testing windows for Florida Standards Assessments, so every student can be safety tested.

According to the order the results for grade 3 ELA assessment will be available no later than June 30 and the results for remaining assessments will be made no later than July 31.

Board Member Gwyn Gittens said she hopes the testing will only be used for diagnostic purposes this year. Her concern is it might also be used for school grades and the teachers’ Value Added Model scores.

Gittens said let’s say she teaches three classes of English and her students do not do well on the FSA.

“If they use the FSA as they have traditionally done, these teachers that are busting their back teaching kids that have been out of school for almost a year and trying to get them up to speed and they don’t,” Gittens said, adding that if the scores come in and the teachers get rated on their student’s scores “that is going to be a major problem. If you are a teacher trying to help these kids catch up and they don’t reach the mark, you get penalized for it.”

She asked how the district is going to attract teachers if they are giving it their all and they are still getting reprimanded and penalized as a result?

Gittens said the testing needs to be done because they need to take the “temperature of the student’s achievement” and where they are now.

“That will tell us what we need to do to help get them back on target. How far off from the target they are now and what it is we need to do,” Gittens said.

She encourages the community to talk to their local legislators, as well as Tallahassee legislatures to ensure this does not happen.

“Don’t do this to our students and teachers. They are working so hard and it would be a literal slap in the face to score them that way,” Gittens said.