The “Fewer, Better Tests” bill is moving through the Florida Legislature. The proposed law would slash standardized testing and lay out significant changes to the state’s K-12 education system.

On Monday, the Florida House Education Committee passed HB 773, sponsored by Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah, and Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, getting it through to the House floor.

HB 773’s Changes to Current Testing Practices

With Diaz’s last minute amendment, the bill would change the current testing schedule, whittle it down to a 2 week window for the English Language Arts and a writing exam for grades 4-10, beginning no earlier than May 1.

As is established, “Testing season” begins as early as March across the state and lasts for months, which has routinely been criticized by education activists.

Diaz’s measure would eliminate the end-of-course assessment test for Algebra II and would also allow some students the option of using pencil-and-paper exams rather than taking tests online, which is currently mandatory for all grades.

HB 773 Opts to Publish Statewide Assessments

On the other hand, Diaz’s amended bill would also establish a system to publish statewide assessments. Beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, the Florida Department of Education would be required to publish each assessment test. At a minimum, the department would have to publish the third grade English language arts and mathematics exams, the tenth grade ELA assessment, and the Algebra I EOC assessment test.

In addition, HB 773 would require the Commissioner of Education to hire a third party to create an individual learning growth assessment for students so teachers and students can see how they are performing from year to year.

House Democrats prefer voting in favor of the Senate’s education bill, but said they would hop on board with the House proposal anyway. Only Rep. Kamia Jones, D-Ocoee, voted against the measure.

The House legislative session ends May 5.

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