March, 2015

Although there will be little time to reach your Senators, please do so by email or leave a message by phone before session starts at 10 AM tomorrow.  Most of these amendments, including a 60 page delete-all substitute amendment of SB 616 were not filed until 5 PM and had to be analyzed.

We are urgently recommending that you contact your Florida Senators to support the following amendments tomorrow as the education testing bill, SB 616 goes to the floor to begin consideration TOMORROW, April 1st around 10 AM.  We thank Senators Montford, Hays and Bullard for offering these amendments.  The barcodes listed will have to change because they were introduced before Chairman Legg introduced his delete all amendment, which will be discussed below as well, but you can just mention the ideas of what they are and that should suffice.  They are listed in order of priority (there were nine new amendments listed, and although some of the others may have merit, we are focusing on the most :

Montford/Hays Validity Amendment Barcode 137530
This new bipartisan amendment offered by Senators Montford and Hays accomplishes the same things on validity as the original Hays amendment discussed in our report of the Hays and Simmons amendments with documentation available HERE. It will hold students, teachers, and schools harmless for promotion, graduation, teacher evaluations and school grades until the FSA is independently verified to be psychometrically valid by an independent national organization. It does not, however, contain the load testing language of Senator Hays original amendment. 

Talking Points:

  1. Despite testimony by Commissioner Stewart in committee, there is no evidence of psychometric validation in Florida or Utah of the FSA. (Documents available on request).
  2. The Department admitted in one of their documents (p.137) that there was insufficient research to use the established FCAT test for "student proficiency" and "school accountability" without "unintended negative consequences." (See our FSCCC report).
  3. This amendment is the minimum that legislators should do ethically to protect Florida students, teachers and schools from the harm of high stakes consequences from an invalid test and the minimum you should do to protect the taxpayers from having to pay for the law suits that are already being prepared on this issue.
Bullard Amendment Allowing District Choice of Nationally Norm Referenced Test - Barcode 863180
This amendment is language we have been supporting all session, a form of which is found in both HB 877 (Mayfield)/ SB 1450 (Bullard) and HB 1121 (Tobia)/SB 1496 (Evers)

Talking Points:
  1. This amendment promotes local control and gives public schools the same freedom of choice that private, home and charter schools have, which is even in line with former Governor Bush's (see summit video at 28:10) idea to "figure out ways to liberate the traditional public schools" regarding testing.
  2. With all of the validation issues with the FSA, it would be nice to use an already validated, acceptable and field tested test.
  3. These tests are given in paper and pencil format, negating the huge cost of online assessments and losing far less instructional time during testing because computer labs are tied up as the online tests have to be given in shifts.
Bullard Amendment Requiring Paper and Pencil Testing until Assessment is Technologically Load Tested Barcode 722230
Although we think paper and pencil testing should be an option all of the time as in the Mayfield/Bullard bill and Tobia/Evers bill, for a whole host of reasons to be discussed in the talking points, we very much appreciate Senator Bullard offering this amendment.
Talking Points:
  1. After the disastrous rollout of the FSA writing test, the "cyber-attack," and the evidence that the DOE seems to have ignored the statutory requirement for the load testing, there is really little doubt that the tests should be given on paper AT LEAST until the load testing is accomplished and preferably all of the time.
  2. We think the tests should be given on paper all of the time for many reasons, including prevention of data mining, parents' rights, local control, and assessing children on knowledge instead of keyboarding skills.
Legg Delete-All Amendment Barcode 877970

Sadly, neither the House nor the Senate bill deals with the major concerns of the standards, data collection and psychological manipulation of the Common Core system, the Senate is a significant improvement over the House bill, not taking the concerning language on third grade retention and removing the imposition of the very subjective, non-valid and or computer adaptive assessments for the kindergarten and early grade reading assessments and removal of local assessments for which we thank Senator Legg.  If the Montford/Hays amendment on validity is added, we would definitely support it in conference committee.

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