Gulf County educators are celebrating the end of the Florida Standards Assessment after Gov. Ron DeSantis’s Tuesday announcement calling for the termination of the program following the current school year.
The governor said the state plans to replace the “outdated” testing system with one that places more emphasis on progress monitoring by periodically assessing student performance. This new program would involve shorter tests taken throughout the school year in order to determine student performance in “real-time,” according to the Tuesday announcement.
Gulf District Schools Superintendent Jim Norton said the district was excited to see the state transition away from FSA testing, which Florida introduced with their adoption of the Common Core standards in 2010.
Common Core aimed to create a means for assessing student performance nationwide, as opposed to just at the state level. However, the system was often criticized by educators who felt it limited opportunities to individualize education to a student’s needs and placed too much emphasis on testing.
Ending FSA was the final step in eliminating Common Core in Florida, according to a news release from DeSantis.
“It’s almost as though the Common Core, which is the bulk of the states in this nation, was out panning for the smartest,” Norton said. “And it almost left others behind.”
“At least at this juncture we have the hope that we can go ahead and individualize a lot more things and tailor-fit things a lot better,” he continued.
Lori Price, the assistant superintendent for instruction at Gulf District Schools, said while it wasn’t clear yet what new state standardized testing will look like, she hopes it will give individual school districts more say in how student progress is monitored.
“Right now, I don’t feel like we’ve been given enough information,” she said. “We know what’s going to be taken away. We just don’t know what they’re going to replace it with.”
“We still have to continue to test. We have to progress monitor to know where students are at,” she continued. “I’m hoping they will give the district some autonomy in choosing what it looks like.”
Price explained that the district would like to be able to implement progress monitoring at a more individual level for each student. She said Gulf District Schools, if given the opportunity, would implement more programs that use software to give teachers instant feedback on a particular student’s specific strengths and weaknesses.
“If you’ve given a good progress monitoring instrument or diagnostic instrument to a student and can see exactly which skills this particular child is missing, then the teacher can adjust instruction to meet that child’s needs,” Price said. “That’s what we need to do. It can’t be a one size fits all.”