Today, Governor Ron DeSantis announced a passed legislative proposal that will eliminate the common-core-based, end-of-year Florida Statewide Assessment (FSA) and create the new Florida Assessment of Student Thinking (F.A.S.T) plan, which will monitor student progress and foster individual growth.
The proposal, which was signed into law on Tuesday, reduces testing time by upwards of 75 percent, benefiting students and teachers alike. The diagnostic, child-specific monitoring allows for educators to track and receive real-time data reflecting the specific areas that a student may need remedial instruction on. The monitoring also allows students to receive feedback in the current school year, opposed to the FSA method that oftentimes doesn’t provide testing results until the following summer break.
“We are here with legislators to officially announce the removal of the FSA from the state of Florida,” remarked DeSantis. “Instead of having one major test at the end of the year, which provided no feedback to students before the summer came, we would do progress monitoring that would monitor progress throughout the school year; it will be shorter, it will be more individualized, and it will provide good feedback for students, teachers, and parents.”
FSA has been much maligned by teachers and students, serving as a successor to the similarly administered Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). The programs drew criticism after curriculums shifted to a focus on passing the end-of-year tests rather than thoroughly teaching the material. With the move away from standardized testing, Florida will become the first state in the nation to enact progress monitoring.
Overall school grades will be assessed based on the results yielded from progress monitoring checks, similarly to how FSA results presently factor into the administration of school grades, However, progress monitoring allows for regulatory bodies to have a more nuanced insight toward individual school performance, which would allow for a more accurate reflection in the grade a school receives.
“We haven’t looked behind us, we’ve put the pedal to the medal,” said House Speaker Chris Sprowls. “This bill is about parents and kids. Taking away the stress of a ‘one size fits all’ test, making sure we’re monitoring children through the course of a school year, and most importantly, that parents can react to the information. Give me the information so that I can help them. That is what this bill is for, to make sure that parents have this information so they can react.”
DeSantis, in the recently-finished Legislative Session, championed the passing of the raising of teacher salary minimums, as well as ordering for the highest-ever per-pupil spending in the history of the state.