A new measure from state Rep. Shevrin Jones would rework the state’s standardized testing system by requiring school districts to obtain parental consent before issuing exams to students.
“As a former educator, I have seen the stress that many parents, teachers, and students feel when it comes to Florida’s high-stakes standardized testing firsthand,” Jones said in a statement announcing the bill (HB 929).
“This legislation is a key step in reducing that anxiety and burden, increasing transparency, while also recognizing our students as more than just datapoints.”
Jones, a West Park Democrat, filed the measure Thursday.
“The parent of a student attending a public school within the school district must provide written consent for his or her student to participate in the school district’s assessment program,” the bill reads.
“If a parent does not provide written consent, the student may not participate in any district-level assessments. A student may not be penalized for not participating in such assessments and the school district must provide other means for such student to demonstrate learning gains or mastery of the subjects of such assessments.”
Those exams are used to track student progress in areas such as reading and math in order to assess the students’ education levels and the effectiveness of public schools.
But the exams have been criticized at times for requiring instructors to “teach to the test” and de-emphasize other areas of education.
Jones argues his bill is necessary to reduce “over-testing” of students.
“Florida’s flawed current system forces our underpaid teachers to teach to the test and rush students through standards instead of giving kids opportunities for inquiry and educational exploration that will set them up for long-term success,” Jones said.
“Current testing requirements lead to lost instructional time and narrowing of the curriculum, ultimately hurting our students. Beyond these costs, the burdensome assessments cost Florida taxpayers millions of dollars each year as the booming for-profit standardized testing industry continues to profit at our expense.”
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has also pushed back on the overabundance of standardized testing.
“We have to measure, to know if people are learning or not, but I don’t want school to be some big standardized testing machine,” DeSantis said.
Students can currently skip the tests if they have a medical emergency. Otherwise, there is no opt-out provision in state law.
“It is critical that we examine student assessments and move towards a model that is fairer, more efficient, and puts Florida students first,” Jones said. “Anything less than that only restricts kids’ access to opportunity and their future prosperity.”