School districts receive 2-week reprieve for annual assessments

Photo courtesy Florida Statewide Assessments

One week ago, an emergency order was released by Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran to give school districts additional time to conduct standardized tests. The extended assessment time frame provides two additional weeks for school districts to conduct assessments.

The assessment covers subjects such as reading, writing, math and science — known as English Language Arts (ELA), which is disseminated to students in grades 3-10. The assessment is computer-based and paper-based.

Jacob Oliva, chancellor of the division of public schools, said the extended assessment time frame would benefit districts that have extended school into June.

“With many districts extending school into June, these flexibilities help those that delayed opening in order to implement health and safety measures,”  Oliva told superintendents in a memo accompanying the emergency order.

Due to the conditions produced by the coronavirus last spring, Florida schools in all 67 counties allowed students back for in-person learning in August. About 65 percent of all Florida students are studying in person.

The state Department of Education said that students currently registered in distance learning are expected to take the FSA tests in person.

Corcoran, Florida’s Education Commissioner, said there is an achievement gap that is being compounded due to the unreasonable proportions of educationally deprived students who study off-campus or don’t attend school at all.

“With disproportionate numbers of educationally disadvantaged students learning off-campus or not attending school at all, and achievement gaps potentially being exacerbated, the testing that is required by state and federal law is now more critical than ever so that educators and parents can measure progress and determine what additional services and supports are needed to ensure that each student is given the services and supports they need to succeed in life,” he said in the executive order.

The results from the FSA tests will influence factors such as graduation, teacher raises, school budgets, and whether a student will advance to the next grade level.

The executive order will also provide sufficient time for schools to evaluate assessments. According to the executive order, the results of the Grade 3 ELA assessments will be accessible by June 30. By July 31, the results of all additional tests will be accessible.

Wash Anderson, Tallahassee Urban League coordinator, said the extended time is an opportunity for students to have more time to study.

“I mentor students every day, and I notice due to this pandemic that has come upon us has affected the way students learn. We owe it to the students to give them the chance to do their best on these tests by giving them more time to study. These kids are up next and when tutoring these kids. My mission is to make sure they retain the knowledge needed to be the highest achieving student they can be,” Wash said.