ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Each year Florida students take standardized tests, but those were canceled last year after the pandemic disrupted the end of the school year.
What You Need To Know
- Standardized tests were canceled in Florida last school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic
- This year, though, the state plans to go ahead with the tests
- Some parents and teachers are asking if the tests are the best idea for students this year
But this school year the state plans to go ahead with them.
Central Florida families and teachers see how the pandemic is still impacting students and they’re asking, if state testing is really what’s best this year.
Parents Tim and Kristyn Baker, both work in Orange County public schools, say they see the impacts from the pandemic firsthand with their third grade son.
“While his teachers have been phenomenal this year, last year he lost his second half of second grade,” Kristyn Baker said.
Which makes them worry he won’t pass the Florida Statewide Assessment, which he needs to move on to 3rd grade.
“I think that would hurt him more than anything because he would see his peers move on,” Baker said.
The Bakers say they’re also worried for the students they serve in the schools where they work.
“People are worried where their next meal is going to come from, if they’re going to be able to pay their mortgage that month, and then to throw on top of that hey you have also have this test,” Baker said.
They’re joining a growing movement of thousands of parents and educators across the state who are calling for the Florida Department of Education to postpone the FSA, like they did last year.
A petition with more than 7,300 signatures is calling for the Florida Department of Education to cancel the testing for this school year like they did last year when the pandemic forced schools to close.
“Catch our kids up to where they need to be for this year, give them a pass, and then start it up again once the pandemic is over,” Timothy Baker said.
But when we asked the state about this, they doubled down on the importance of testing.
Officials told released a statement that said in part:
"Testing that is required by state and federal law is now more critical than ever so that educators and parents can measure students’ growth and determine what additional services and supports are needed to ensure equity in opportunity for each student to succeed."
Assistant professor of Education at the University of Central Florida Dr. Larry Walker says it’s true, testing provides important data to the state and school districts on where to focus resources and funding.
But he also says the financial hardships significantly increase the rates of depression and anxiety in students.
“You have to recognize that during a pandemic it’s not feasible to test students who are already dealing with anxiety and depression,” Walker said.
There’s also the question of how to safely administer the test with social distancing.
The state said: "The Department has provided significant flexibilities to support districts and schools in their successful efforts thus far to provide a safe and secure environment for administering assessments to students."
But the state did confirm that doing the FSA virtually is "not an option."