Florida Standards Assessment still facing disapproval

Courtesy of Orlando Sentinel

It’s a new year and many parents and teachers are still upset over the new and controversial Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) test.

The test was administered statewide for the first time back in early spring of 2015, to grades 3-10.  It was designed to replace the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). Unlike the FCAT, the FSA was conducted online and featured components in various subjects such as Civics, Algebra I, Geometry and Biology.

According to the Florida Department of Education, many teachers complained about the difficulties they faced while administering the test online. There were several complaints regarding computers restarting during testing as well as the test not being compatible with computers in the classrooms.

Celeste Clemons, a fifth grade science and math teacher at Sealey Elementary, described the FSA’s testing criteria as much more difficult.

“I feel the standards for the FSA are a lot more rigorous than the previous FCAT test,” Clemons said.

Along with the new test came new standards and criteria that the state requires teachers to include in their curriculum to prepare students for the assessments.

“They did a better job with these standards than the ones we had with FCAT, but it was still a lot of subject matter to cover and challenging to teach,” Clemons said.

In previous years the results from FCAT testing were released between May and June, only a few months after initial testing. The FSA testing results weren’t released until last September.

Ronnie McBrien, a representative from the Office of Assessments at the Florida Department of Education claims that the delays in the FSA test results are due to a recent law.

“Because of House Bill 7069 the results of the test had to be delayed,” McBrien said.   

The bill requires the FDE to find an outside party to review the test and the results before releasing the results to the public.

“An independent review must be conducted by a third party agency in order to test the FSA for validity,” McBrien said.

In the past, Florida public schools were given school grades based on their performance on the FCAT. After passing validation the Florida Department of Education agreed that results of the FSA will determine school grades.

With the FSA raising many eyebrows, many educators believe that the school grades should not be affected by student’s performance on the FSA.

“The Leon County Public school district is supportive and involved with thoroughly communicating with the schools via DOE, and we’re hoping that the school will not be graded based on test results,” Demetria Clemons, principal of Sealey elementary, said.

State lawmakers plan to come to an agreement by the end of the month regarding a new scoring system for school grades.