Gov. DeSantis announces legislation to eliminate FSA, replace it with 'progress monitoring'

Florida's governor announced steps to abolish Florida Standards Assessments for the students, adding that this school year will the last for the annual tests.

During a visit to Doral Academy Preparatory School, Gov. Ron DeSantis called on lawmakers to craft legislation to end the state's annual testing for standardized math and reading to ultimately bring an end to Common Core.

The FSAs are given at the end of each school year to assess students' gains in English, math and other subjects.

But DeSantis said the system has flaws, including identifying students' weaknesses at the end of the year, instead of being able to help them during the current school year.

"It's not customizable to each student," he said. "It fails to provide timely information to parents. We are going to replace it with progress monitoring, which many schools are doing anyway."

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He also said the existing test comes too late to adjust instruction plans if needed during the school year.

"You take a major test at the end of the year, you get the results at the end of the school year. You can't go back and fix that," the governor said.

Instead, the standardized testing will be replaced with "progress monitoring," which the governor said will be short, individualized check-in assessments in fall, winter and spring that will take hours, not days, to administer.

DeSantis said the transition will lead to a 75% reduction in testing, and will allow for more individualized testing while keeping parents informed of a student's progress. 

During the school year, teachers can "make the necessary corrections" during the school year for a student.

Back in 2019, DeSantis signed an executive order aimed at ending Common Core in the state.

The executive order directed Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran to develop a road map for a new way to educate students.

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Florida moved to a Common Core-type system under former Gov. Rick Scott, a change aimed at matching standards for other students in the U.S.

Critics of Common Core said it would take away local control and dumb down our schools. Meanwhile, many parents had trouble understanding some of the teaching methods and found it confusing, particularly some of the math.

Tuesday's announcement drew bipartisan support for the move. The Florida Education Association teachers union, which has locked horns with DeSantis on other education issues, praised the proposal. The union has long advocated for dropping standardized testing, and called the change a "big win" for students and public schools.

"A student's future shouldn't hang on one high-stakes, make-or-break test, and one test shouldn't dominate weeks that could otherwise be used for meaningful instruction," FEA President Andrew Spar said. "We welcome today's announcement as a sign that Florida is moving closer to a system that focuses on students' growth instead of on high-stakes standardized tests."

State Sen. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, praised the governor's announcement.

"As a former educator, my ears and mind are open to what’s next! I am looking forward to teachers getting back to GENUINELY teaching and moving away from teaching to a test," Jones tweeted. "This can be a bipartisan push to lessen the pressure on teachers AND students." 

Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said that schools basically shut down in April and May to prepare for the standardized tests.

"We always say the FSA is an autopsy. We basically wait at the end of the year, we have this autopsy and we don't even gather the data until the end of the year," Corcoran said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.