A month after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced plans to change the Florida State Assessment, or FSA, teachers, parents, and students wonder what comes next.
The FSA, the most important standardized tests that Florida students take every year, has its pros and cons, said Deborah Greenberg, an education specialist who has been helping students to take these types of tests for 17 years: “The pros to a standardized test are [… that] you have one data point that the student is being compared to their peers. I do think it’s important to have that data.”
The 2002 No Child Left Behind law expanded the federally mandated standardized testing to assess school performance. Fast forward almost 20 years, children’s advocates, and other parties involved claim these standardized tests have gotten out of control.
“The FSA is just a measure of your socio-economic status,” said Dominique Mayorga, a South Broward High School journalism teacher and mother of two.
Schools with lower assessment scores, such as the FSA, tend to have students who are poor. Some live in homes with one parent. Others have working parents who can’t be around often enough to be involved and others have parents with subpar reading level, according to the American Psychological Association.
Testing affects everyone whether they are taking the test or not. During testing season, the media center or library must close in order to create more testing places.
“The FSA does affect the schedule of the teachers, they have to adapt to that,” said Greenberg. “When you have FSA testing, there are areas in the school that are closed… for basically a month of school the expectation is that students will be very quiet in the hallways so sometimes the route that students go [to class] is different.”
DeSantis aims to change the FSA, which is given at the end of each year, into three shorter assessments throughout the year.
“At first blush, that makes more sense. I’ve spoken to other teachers and they have agreed.” She explains that, “My students say ‘I think I would like that better because I don’t remember everything at the end of the year,’” said Mayorga.
Teachers and parents are concerned with who will be involved in the decision-making process.
“Politicians don’t trust teachers, you have to trust the teacher. They’re the ones on the ground doing the teaching,” said Mayorga. “Ask them and they will tell you what they think is the best way to monitor progress.”
The change in testing can also affect the curriculum. Greenberg explains teachers are used to having months of preparation for the test, starting at the beginning of august until the FSA in the spring.
“It’ll definitely be a big change, and it’ll definitely take some getting used to,” said Greenberg.