Senate Education Committee Meeting Update on SB616

Senate Education Committee Meeting Update on SB616

Senator Alan Hays

During today’s Senate Education Committee meeting to address SB616 ( there was an impressive effort by Senator Alan Hays ( through his amendments to SB616 greatly improve the testing challenges our students and school are facing this year. Unfortunately Senator Hays amendments were withdrawn. [Note: A Senator will sometimes withdraw an amendment rather than just simply have if voted down.]

Senate Rules Chairman David Simmons submitted an amendment that was adopted. ( Simmons amendment does not provide the many positive changes that Sen. Hays’s amendment did. Simmons amendment primarily just identifies third-graders in the lower 25% quartile as at risk and provides them with additional help going into fourth grade. This of course is something that teachers and schools already do.

Hays plainly shared with the Committee, “let’s admit we have a train wreck on our hands“. He went on to say, “…we have some serious work to do to get this train back on its track“.

We should all thank Senator Hays for his valiant effort today. I believe we have found an advocate and friend in Senator Hays for students, parents and teachers.

While Hays amendments didn’t make it through committee, the Committee acknowledged that more needs to be done. There was much testimony by the public stating why the State would spent over $200 million on a State mandated test that is unclear if it is even going to be valid for measuring any student learning gains this year. In addition there was much testimony on the question of whether our students have too many state mandated tests. One of those that testified was a 19 year veteran principal who the Committee asked, “do you think we test too much?” He responded, “…yes, test less so we can teach more”. While in the Senate Education Committee today we didn’t get all that we needed, but all and all it wasn’t a bad day for those of us that have major concerns and issues with state mandated high stakes testing requirements of the last many years.

What I am pleased about this Legislative session is that Legislators are hearing and listening to parents about their concerns about the FSA test and other high stakes testing. What is still disappointing and concerning is that while the Legislators are realizing there are concerns with these high stakes test and there is a willingness to perhaps not use them this year punitively against students that is not what the Legislators are willing to do for teachers. Legislators have not been willing to suspend any testing results against teacher’s evaluations. I believe that is clearly wrong and have to ask, why? If Legislators are saying these tests are not valid for students then these same tests also must not be valid for teacher’s evaluations either.Top of Form

Bottom of FormFor more on the Senate Education Committee meeting read the Tampa Bay Times article “Florida Senate finds compromise on testing”;

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