High Stakes Testing Update

Based on legislation that passed this session, the FSA will be rebranded to the “FAST” beginning next year. What does that mean for standardized testing in our schools?

Here’s what we know:

  • Students will continue to take assessments as they currently do (ELA in grades 3 – 10, math in grades 3 – 8, Science in grades 5 and 8, etc.).
  • The tests will consist of a comprehensive end-of-year exam, as well as two progress monitoring exams that will be added to the school year.
  • The high stakes placed on these tests will remain (possible retention in grade 3, school grades, teacher evaluations)
  • All tests will be computer-based
  • Tests will begin in pre-Kindergarten

Here’s what we don’t know:

  • How long each test will take (the bill doesn’t specify)
  • When the results will be available
  • How school districts will fund additional computers that may be needed
  • Which assessment tool will be used
  • If the same test security procedures will be needed
  • If our district will continue to use the existing progress monitoring exams (the AIMS tests and some district-created end of course exams)

Many of these questions will be answered by the Department of Education and/or Board of Education, hopefully over the summer. We will keep you posted as we hear more!

Boost post

Action Alert: Funding for Alachua County Schools

As child advocates, we are very disappointed in the budget proposal approved by the House recently that would fine school districts for responding to local conditions and taking appropriate actions to protect our children. While we appreciate that the Senate’s version of the budget does not include this cut, we hope the cuts will not be reflected in the final version.

Please contact your Senators to ensure that this fine, which will affect 15 positions within our district and equal a loss of $1.7 million, is excluded from the final budget.

Below is the letter ACCPTA wrote to Senator Perry:

How to Help Your Child Manage Their Emotions

ACCPTA is pleased to launch a series of workshops the first Wednesday of each month titled: Wellness Wednesdays. We are working with family and youth development experts at the University of Florida to provide families with the tools they need to help their children/youth with mental health and wellness. Please join us for our virtual workshop:

How to Help Your Child Manage Their Emotions
Wednesday, March 2nd, 7 pm
In this workshop, we will collaboratively discuss strategies families can use to discuss feelings with your children/youth, as well as coping skills that will help during times of distress. This workshop is designed for families of elementary and middle school-aged children.
Register here: https://bit.ly/ACCPTA-Mar2
Erin Corcoran, MS
PhD Candidate,University of Florida Clinical & Health Psychology

Dr. Babetta Mattai, Postdoctoral Psychology Fellow
University of FloridaClinical & HealthPsychology

Advocacy Update: School Bus Driver Shortage

ACCPTA is concerned about the school bus driver shortage in our district and the impact it’s having on students. As many as 27 drivers have been absent at a time for multiple reasons, which leads to buses arriving up to 90 minutes late, or not arriving at all in some cases. Students must wait for long periods of time both in the morning and the afternoon, and some don’t have reliable options for alternate transportation. Many students miss class due to late buses in the morning. We are concerned about student safety, learning loss, and potential equity issues.

We met with the district and learned about potential solutions they are working on, including:

  • Developing a bid to privatize some of the transportation department, adding additional drivers to help fill gaps.
  • Training at least one staff member at each school to be a substitute bus driver as needed.
  • Researching bus capacity to see if routes could be reorganized or combined.

We also suggested some additional possible solutions:

  • Providing free after school EDEP access for students who have to wait for long periods of time. During this time, a (paid) teacher could provide tutoring services for the students who miss class in the morning.
  • Partnering with after school programs that have buses/vans.
  • Making sure high school students are aware of options to use RTS bus routes at no charge.
  • Working with schedules and routes to make sure the same students aren’t missing the bus repeatedly.
  • Paying teachers or other school staff to serve as attendants on buses.
  • Providing additional incentives for bus drivers.

We look forward to continuing to work with the district to develop innovative solutions that will help our county’s students!