FSCCC & Common Ground Testify to House Subcommittee on NAEP Proficiency Issue & Other Costs in HB 773

March, 2017

FSCCC and Common Ground testified about the very significant costs associated with HB 773 (SB 926) in the House Education Appropriations Subcommittee on March 28th , especially the devastating costs of the NAEP proficiency languageVideo of the hearing is available HERE, with discussion of this bill beginning at 51:20. What follows are the prepared remarks of Dr. Karen Effrem, Marie Clare Leman, and Catherine Baer about different aspects of this very costly bill:

Dr. Karen Effrem (1:06:20)

Thank you Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. I am also with Common Ground and I am here to bring up a very important and what I hope is an unintended consequence of this bill. 

According to the staff analysis and Amendment 1, this bill has a fiscal impact of $1, 247, 251 in recurring General Revenue funds to implement Section 2 of the bill. One of the major provisions of Section 2 is the cost for the effects of tying proficiency levels on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also called the NAEP to Level 3 on the Florida Standards Assessment or FSA. We believe that this appropriation vastly under states the costs that will result. The NAEP only assess grades four, eight and twelve. This would require extrapolation of NAEP's proficiency levels to other grades, including educator and reactor panels and significant deliberation, which would incur significant costs.

However, these costs will pale in comparison to the recurrent local costs to districts when the proficiency alignment leads to the certain drop in passing rates. With this alignment, according to the Department of Education, the 4th grade passing rate for students in reading will decrease 50% from 54% to 27%.  Costs from this will include remediation, progress monitoring, more summer school, and make-up exams, not to mention costs for lower school grades directly due to the accountability system, as well as decreased property values, resulting in drastically lower school funding from decreased property tax revenues.

This would be especially tragic for our already beleaguered school districts, because this concept of tying NAEP proficiency to state test achievement levels has NO, and I repeat NO support in the government and research communities. The National Center for Education Statistics that administers the NAEP, as well as the National academy of Sciences, The National Academy of Education, and the Brookings Institute all say that proficiency on the NAEP and achievement levels on state tests like the FSA are completely unrelated and should have nothing to do with each other.

In addition, Commissioner Stewart and the State Board of Education rejected this idea a year ago with a 6-1 board vote. 

We are strongly opposed to this proficiency language in the bill because of the devastating fiscal, and especially the human costs it will have on our local schools, districts, students and teachers. Thank you very much

Marie Claire Leman - Opt Out Florida (1:01:35)  - Compressed Testing Window & CBE

I'm part of Opt Out Florida and I'm also here as part of Common Ground today and two of my colleagues will be discussing other parts of our combined presentation.

One of our concerns actually address on of your pertinent questions, Representative Brown, around the concern relating to technology and infrastructure necessary to administer all of the FSA ELA and the FSA math in a compressed three week period at the end of the year, especially at the end of the year, because that is also when high schools and middle schools are also administering the state EOCs. There are six of them Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Civics, U.S. History, and Biology. They're all computer-based tests and they're end of course exams. So they would, in order to abide with this provision, would have to in some cases be moved to earlier than the last three weeks of the school year, but they are end-of-course exams. So, we are concerned that the schools would not have the technological resources to do all of those exams.

There is also the concern regarding student time and infrastructure availability or technology availability to permit district end of course exams, final exams, because FSA exams are not the student course final exams. Those are the state exams, but there are also math and ELA final exams that have to be done at the end of the year in order to provide a student a grade on the report card. And the EOCs, just to be clear, do contribute to the students' course grades.

The other concern we have in terms of fiscal implication is that it's hard to know what the implementation costs would be of making available the new ELA and math assessment every quarter to students identified through competency-based education.  This is also in this bill. And I guess we have mostly questions for you. Would the testing entity that we contract with have to provide us with multiple versions of these assessments in order to make them available to be administered in every quarter? And wouldn't that increase the costs of our contract with that testing entity? And also, we are not clear on whether these tests every quarter would be available to students across the state or only to the students in the districts that are piloting competency based education, the four districts that are piloting that. That's all for me. Thank you very much.

Catherine Baer - Tea Party Network (1:10:25) - ACT/SAT Study 

Thank you very much. I'm also here with Common Ground. I wanted to talk to you about the staff analysis and Amendment 1 saying that this bill has a fiscal impact of $339,611 in nonrecurring General Revenue funds to implement the provisions of Section 1.  Section 1 covers the commissioner of education reviewing the SAT and ACT to determine their alignment with the core curricular content.  This study has an expense of $339,611.  I submit this outlay is unnecessary.  Currently the SAT and ACT are Common Core/Florida Standards aligned and can be used as concordant scores in place of FSA. In addition, I believe Seminole County completed as assessment last year, which was presented to the Senate Education Committee, as part of their advocacy for a "Seminole Solution" To repeat, this study would be redundant and certainly not worth the $339,000 expense. Thank you.

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