SB 616 Filed to Reduce Testing Impact

dmbtestSenate Education Chairman, John Legg, filed SB 616 to limit testing time and reduce the impact of achievement gain scores on teacher evaluations.

There is also a district option for changing how State assessment results are reported for 2014-15.

Will the bill have a meaningful impact on the amount of testing that is required?  Given that districts must still do local testing in courses not covered in statewide assessments, it is not clear how the number of tests will be reduced.

Testing and learning have always been intertwined.  The question at hand is how much testing and for which purposes should tests be used?  The legislators are listening.  Send them your thoughts.

The amount of time that a student spends on testing depends upon the number of tests mandated by the district and the State.  This new legislation restricts the percentage of time for testing and leaves it up to the district to determine which tests will be used.  Of course, the State mandates that districts administer both statewide and local assessments.  District must develop a plan to meet the requirements.  How much testing will be reduced is yet to be determined.

It is not only the number of tests that limit time for instruction.  It is also the time teachers must allocate to prepare students to take the tests.  Teachers use practice tests and drill and practice exercises to help students understand not only the test content but how to respond to different types of questions.  Students need this help, but what is on the test is what has to be taught.  Thus, the more narrowly defined the test, the more limited the instruction will be.

Test administration itself is disruptive.  Students may be pulled out of class to take tests in an auditorium or in a computer lab.  Depending upon the availability of testing facilities, individual classes may be disrupted for many more days than the 5% requirement dictates.

A brief summary of the proposed changes in SB 616 follows:

LOCAL ASSESSMENTS.

  • Districts shall use only 5% of total school hours for statewide standardized assessments and district wide local assessments. Written consent from parents is needed if more time is used. A student may choose to take a test that exceeds this time restriction.
  • District responsibility for local assessments for all subjects not covered by statewide assessments is maintained. (line 258)

EVALUATION PROCEDURES AND CRITERIA:  Districts are to base 40% (instead of 50%) of teacher evaluations on student learning growth (or 30% for new teachers) using statewide assessments or local assessments covering subjects not included in statewide assessments.  Assessments for courses required for graduation.  Classroom observations of instructional practice will count as 30%.

SCHOOL TRANSITION (Section 5, line 494) provides for a School District Contingency Plan to waive all requirements and benefits under 1008.34 (7) for 2014-15 and use the 2014-15 assessment data for diagnostic and baseline purposes only. Districts must apply for and justify a waiver.  The justification may not include student non-participation in assessments.  School and district grades will not be published.  Student performance will be included in statewide performance reports.

 

 

Posted in Achievement, Florida, Legislation, Teachers, Testing.

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