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Legislative plan: Lee School District tackles testing

By Staff | Dec 11, 2014

The School District of Lee County has unanimously voted to file specific language for legislation regarding state-mandated testing and high-stake penalties for students and schools.

The vote, taken during a special school board meeting Wednesday, passed 4-0, with Mary Fischer being absent.

Board Member Steve Teuber, who is the legislative liaison for the board, said Wednesday’s special meeting was held to provide the community with the opportunity to speak, as well as adopt language for the district’s lobbyist to bring forward on the state level.

With the board’s unanimous vote, the local legislative delegation will file and sponsor legislation to “reduce the overall amount of state-mandated testing; eliminate high stakes penalties for students and schools for no less than two years while the new state tests are fully vetted.”

In other words, the legislation would eliminate the PERT test, as well as eliminate the number of grades being tested in writing; eliminate the 11th grade English language arts state exam; remove the required third grade English language arts exam for fourth grade promotion for no less than two years; remove state test requirements for graduation for no less than two years; eliminate school grades for no less than two years and eliminate state sanctions under differentiated accountability for no less than two years.

Teuber said what they have asked for is to go back in time in regards to testing. He said they want to keep testing for writing and reading in grades four, eight and 10.

“Let’s go back to what worked,” Teuber said.

Accountability is also established in the language. He said it does not make sense to hold teachers and students accountable for a test out of Utah that has not been validated.

“It’s really a three-year window and we are hoping that we get just that,” Teuber said.

The hope, he said, is that the measure moves forward and gets on the floor in Tallahassee and that legislators agree it is a no brainer.

Teuber said they wanted to do something locally, so they could wrap their arms around specific issues and possibly move it forward. He said the previous board brought forth a flashpoint for high stakes testing, which got people talking.

Lee County is part of an 11 school coalition with other districts in the coastal counties which, collectively, make up 55 percent of the student population.

“It is a big, powerful coalition,” he said, with powerful legislative delegates.

The coalition is also part of Florida School Board Association.

All 11 counties voted in favor of a very high reaching legislation platform that addresses all educational concerns. Teuber said the “uber shoot the moon” platform is asking for broad sweeping reform that is going to fix all woes for the State of Florida, including accountability and excessive testing.

He said he believes that type of bill is going to be pushed through because it has a representative on the education committee.