Standardized Testing

The Nation's Report Card, released this week, finds declines in reading and math across the country. Another report, this one from the Council of Great City Schools, finds kids are taking too many standardized tests. We begin the hour with a look at both reports and their implications with Colleen Wood, founder of 50th No More and Vice-Chair of the Network for Public Education Action, a national political advocacy organization.

We discuss the week's top news stories with our roundtable of local journalists: Dan Scanlan, Florida Times-Union reporter; Claire Goforth, Folio Weekly reporter; and WJCT analyst John Burr.

Topics include a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office employee being arrested for having ties to a cocaine ring, One Spark 2016's smaller footprint, and more.

Both houses of Congress have now passed versions of the bill that would update the largest federal education law, known as No Child Left Behind, for the first time since 2001. They are big, meaty and complicated, and now they have to be reconciled into one messy Dagwood sandwich of a bill to go to the president.

The Office of Governor Rick Scott

Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday signed a wide-ranging bill aimed at rolling back the number of tests given to public school students, capping off a discussion that saw Florida Republicans ease back at least slightly on a longstanding principle of the state's education-reform movement.

Scott's office announced that he had signed the high-profile measure, following up on weeks of legislative wrangling and his own campaign promise to review the level of testing in schools.

Onderwijsgek / Wikimedia Commons

Florida third-graders would not have to pass a key standardized test to be promoted to fourth grade this year under a measure that would temporarily roll back one of the cornerstones of the state's fight against "social promotion."

bubble test
Tim Lewis / Flickr

  State officials announced Monday they were investigating a cyber-attack against Florida's online-testing program for public schools, while the House Education Committee approved its version of legislation meant to scale back the amount of time students spend on exams.

When lawmakers return to Tallahassee in March for the annual legislative session, they have a lot of questions they need to answer about public school testing.

Senators laid out their concerns about the state testing system last week at a series of meetings.

They don’t know how many tests the state requires or how long it takes to complete those exams.

They don’t know how much the state and school districts spend on testing.

And they’re not convinced they can depend on all the results of those exams.

Rhema Thompson / WJCT

For years, Florida parents have heard about the FCAT.

Now, that test has gone away and the Florida Standards Assessment will soon assume its place. It's a new test that requires more rigor, more critical thinking and more tech-savvy than ever before.

In a new series, WJCT’s Rhema Thompson takes a look at how the Florida Standards Assessment is putting local educators, students and public confidence to the test.

Duval County Public Schools

Duval County Public Schools will have about $20 million more to spend this school year, and a few million will go toward a state-mandated extra hour of reading at more than 40 Duval schools.

Superintendent Nikolai Vitti presented a draft 2014-15 year budget and several recommendations to school board members at a workshop Tuesday.

The district used $15.8 million less from its general funds than expected last year and gained another $4.8 million in one-time adjustments from the state,  according to Vitti. 

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

About half of Florida ninth graders failed the state's Algebra 1 exam in their first attempt last year.

The latest batch of Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores show gains in math, science and reading proficiency across much of Northeast Florida, with Nassau County showing the most improvement. But for the region's largest district - Duval County - the numbers still come up short.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

Ocoee High School just west of Orlando opened less than a decade ago. But technology-wise, the 2,300-student school is already obsolete.

Jackie Mader / The Hechinger Report

For the past few years, the new nationwide Common Core state standards have been slowly rolling out in Florida’s schools.

The Florida Department of Education is revising its timeline for when schools will begin facing penalties under a revised state accountability system.

The biggest change is next year’s switch away from the Florida Comprehensive Assessment tests to new statewide exams aligned with the “Florida Standards”.

Florida House of Representatives

An anti-Common Core rant by Florida State Representative Charles Van Zant is making the rounds online.