House Committee Bill on Floor on 3/17 - Please Support Jenne and Jones Amendments

March, 2015

The Florida House of Representatives will begin consideration of Rep. Marlene O'Toole's HB 7069, the seventy page committee bill today, March 17th at 3 PM and finish on the 18th.  Here is a brief overview so that you are informed and may call your legislators to support the two good amendments to this rushed and complicated bill that we described last week.

Rep. O'Toole and the committee should be thanked for the positive features of the bill that include:

  • Eliminating unnecessary and duplicative state and district assessments by repealing the statewide, standardized 11th grade ELA assessment and repealing the required administration of the PERT to high school students.
  • Prohibiting administration of final exams in addition to statewide, standardized EOC assessments.
  • Granting districts some measure of greater flexibility in evaluating teacher performance by reducing the student performance and instructional practice evaluation components to one third each and streamlining evaluation system monitoring provisions.
The bill does not, however, deal with some of the most foundational problems in the high stakes testing system:
  • First and foremost, it does not acknowledge the inherent right of parents to direct the education of their children by opting them out of tests that narrow curriculum and decrease teaching time.  The tests are mostly about, grading schools; evaluating teachers; and as stated by Miami Superintendent Alberto Carvahlo, more about "gathering data on kids than about the kids themselves."
  • Locks in data mining and causes students, teachers, and districts to suffer the consequences of technical issues beyond their control by not allowing a paper and pencil test at least as an alternative as allowed in Rep. Debbie Mayfield's HB 877.  
  • While attempting to streamline the issues surrounding third grade retention for reading deficiency, it actually appears to decrease flexibility for parents trying to prevent retention by limiting any "Good cause"alternatives until after the child has failed the state reading test.
  • Does not hold accountable either the American Institutes of Research (AIR) or the Florida Department of Education for rushing implementation, failing to heed warnings of impending problems and most importantly, not obeying the law requiring technological load testing and independent verification  by every district in the state before giving any assessments on line .
HB 7069 is also endorsed by the Foundation for Florida's Future, the organization used by Jeb Bush to promote the unconstitutional, invasive, and ineffective "fed ed" standards and testing policies like Common Core and No Child Left Behind.

This legislation is being quickly run through the House without heed to the problems being suffered by our children due to the botched writing assessment.  The problems were blamed on a cyber- attack and then, the department tried to make us believe that the student data was secure and it is perfectly fine to use the results.

Two common sense amendments are being offered to deal with some of these issues:
  1. An amendment by Rep. Evan Jenne (D-Broward) to require the load testing and verification that should by law have happened before the writing test was given online but did not, allowing the use of paper and pencil testing until that testing is completed.
  2. Rep. Mia Jones (D-Miami) has filed an amendment to have a transition time before test results are used for high stakes decisions, like school grades, teacher evaluations, and student promotion.
The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition and our partner organization, The Tea Party Network support these amendments as we wait and hope for improvements to the underlying bill when it is reconciled to the Senate language.  Please contact your House member to support these amendments and urge your legislators to support the Mayfield/Bullard bills on testing options (HB 877/SB 1450) and on education sovereignty and Common Core (HB 743/ SB 1406) as well as the Tobia/Evers bill on Common Core and testing (HB 1121/SB 1496). Thank you!

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