BY RYAN MERARD
COVID-19 completely shifted the course of the second semester of the 2019-2020 school year. Along with the cancellation of student activities, on March 17, Governor Ron DeSantis decided to cancel the administration of all statewide standardized testing.
“Requirements for graduation and promotion and final course grades will be evaluated as though those assessments did not exist,” DeSantis said.
Following DeSantis’ orders, the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) cancelled all end-of-course (EOC) exams. Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) also made the decision to cancel all final exams, including Florida State Assessments (FSA), at all schools except for Broward Virtual.
BCPS decided to use the highest grade of a certain quarter in order to make up for the final exam grade for EOC courses. For schools on a 4-by-4 block schedule such as CCHS, the EOC grade was replaced by the higher of the third or fourth quarter grades, and final exam grades were replaced by the fourth quarter grade.
“Requirements for graduation and promotion and final course grades will be evaluated as though those assessments did not exist.”Florida Governor Ron DeSantis
“The intent of the system outlined above is to benefit students that remain engaged throughout the fourth quarter,” BCPS Chief Academic Officer Daniel Gohl said.
Students enrolled in classes that required a final exam do not have to take the tests at a future date because that requirement has been waived. However, exams that are required for graduation (Algebra 1 EOC, Grade 10 ELA FSA) still have to be taken in the upcoming school year. Students have the option of taking these tests in future administrations, which will be offered throughout the year, or earn a concordant score of 420 on the SAT math or 16 on the ACT math.
Standardized tests being canceled not only affects the students, but the county as a whole. The scores from students on final exams are used to determine the official grade that schools will hold for the following year. Without enough data being present, no school grades will be given out for the next school year.
Florida has a school recognition plan that provides funds to “A” schools and schools that have increased a letter grade. This funding may not be available this school year. Governor DeSantis recently vetoed $135 million for schools that were doing well or made progress on the grading scale because there are no grades to base the achievements off of.
“The statewide assessment results are used in a variety of ways including school accountability, teacher evaluations, course placement and [they] help us recognize schools with large improvement.”BCPS Director of Student Assessment Richard Baum
Teachers in Florida are usually assigned grades based on how their students perform on these standardized tests and are able to earn bonuses in salary if they have a great passing rate. With these tests being called off, teachers may miss this opportunity, after attempting to prepare their students for these tests throughout the year.
“I believe statewide standardized assessments are important. They provide vital year-end achievement data to students, parents, teachers and school and district administrators. However, due to the pandemic, these assessments needed to be canceled,” BCPS Director of Student Assessment Richard Baum said. “The statewide assessment results are used in a variety of ways including school accountability, teacher evaluations, course placement and [they] help us recognize schools with large improvement.”
Canceling statewide assessments may give students a slight relief, but with no student data to show how well teachers may have done with their students, both schools and teachers will miss out on some opportunities in the upcoming school year.
Photo by The Lariat Photography
Illustration by Sofie Kahlig