K-5 recess is still there as are a number of other ideas being floated to support visits to and expansion of charter schools, shared use of school playgrounds and wearing sunscreen etc. Some of the bill actually relates to testing reform.
- Only Algebra II and Civics End of Course exams are gone.
- The DOE competency test for Physical Education is gone.
- The exam schedule is pushed back toward the end of the year.
- Score reports are to include predictive scores students would attain on national college entrance exams. Finally, state assessments must be published every three years.
- A study of alternative high school national examinations for the Florida State Assessments and required End of Course exams is to be commissioned.
- One third of the teacher evaluations must be based upon the growth of student performance as determined by the district. The D.O.E. may, instead of shall, provide a formula for determining student growth.
A myriad of other changes include:
- ending the middle school Career and Educational Planning course.
- lifting the cap on the teacher bonus program for students who score well on the International Baccalaureate exam.
- forming an Early Childhood Committee to track child development.
- providing alternative routes to teacher certification which do not include passing the teacher certification examination. Charter schools and charter management organizations, in addition to school districts may provide a competency based teacher certification program developed by the Florida D.O.E. A teacher mentorship and induction option for certification is added. Professional development for these new teachers is included.
- a last minute amendment regarding instruction for retained third graders. (Is eliminating retention gone?)
Do these changes substantially resolve the negative impact of the testing and accountability culture on teaching and learning? Not much. Two required tests are gone and districts have flexibility in determining how to measure the growth in student achievement that is required for teacher evaluations.
The basic invalidity of student growth measures themselves remains. Teachers should be evaluated on their ability to promote student learning. Doing so is both an art and a combination of strategies that are difficult to quantify.
Alternative routes to teacher certification through in class mentoring is no doubt a response to a looming teacher shortage. The consequences of such an apprentice style route to certification are worrisome. Private schools do not require teacher certification, and their student achievement gains are unknown. Is this the direction we want to go? This could become a rock and a hard place problem.