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Education ‘Train Bill’ Would Cut Testing, Encourage Charters

May 1, 2017
Originally published on April 28, 2017 12:59 pm

A state proposal would cut back on standardized testing in Florida, but the bills would also make several other changes to education.

A House testing bill cuts a requirement that high school students have to take an end of the year algebra II exam. Duval School Board member Becki Couch said she supports the idea, but prefers the Senate version, eliminating even more end-of-year exams.

“It does more of what parents and teachers and community education experts have been asking for,” she said.

Lawmakers are starting to throw together “train bills,” which are pieces of several different bills combined to create longer pieces of legislation.

“Piecemealing bills together that may have died in committee ... and then somehow it gets revived and added to a train bill such as this one,” Couch said. “That really doesn’t speak to being transparent.”

But, she said, parents might like some of the added initiatives in the House education train.

“It allows parents and teachers the ability to see exams from the past whereas currently now there is no way for parents to see what tests actually look like that their kids are taking,” she said.

It also adds dyslexia training for teachers and cuts some exams for new teachers if they’re rated highly effective.

The bill doesn’t, however, address mandatory daily recess, although the Senate's version would require it.

But the House bill also has an entire section devoted to creating a high-performing charter school system, encouraging them to replicate in any district in the state, which Couch has  concerns about.

She said it’s hard to educate the public about these massive bills in a timely manner.

This comes at a time when a separate piece of legislation would allow charter schools to quickly open up in place of failing neighborhood schools, and another bill would require the district share local tax dollars reserved for building projects with them, costing the district millions of dollars.

Photo: "Children at School" used under Creative Commons.

Reporter Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at lkilbride@wjct.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride

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