Alachua County Council of PTAs Stands Against Racism

Alachua County Council of PTAs stands against racism and stands in solidarity with our Asian community. We support the National PTA’s statement addressing racism and racial inequities. We agree that we must unite as one to eliminate racism and social injustice. Our mission is to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children. We can only do that when all are valued, included, and safe. We are still learning and we invite you to join us in these discussions and this effort.

National PTA Adopts Position Statement on Addressing Institutional Racism

Action Alert: Spring 2021 State Testing

ACCPTA is advocating for the removal of high stakes associated with standardized tests this spring for many reasons:

  • This has been an extremely difficult and unprecedented year for our students, teachers, school staff and families. Due to the pandemic, the delivery of education has been met with inconsistency, barriers, and challenges, resulting in an uneven playing field.
  • During times like this, student and education staff mental health is just as important as academic progress. Alleviating the high stakes and punitive accountability placed on the FSA and other standardized tests would minimize anxiety and stress on students, educators, other school staff and families.

Federal Accountability Waiver
The U.S. Department of Education indicated that states can request a waiver from some of the federally-mandated accountability requirements for standardized tests, including:

  • The requirement that schools test 95% of their students in grades 3 – 8.
  • The requirement to identify schools for targeted support and improvement based on test results from the 2020-2021 school year (states would continue to provide support to the schools identified the previous year).
  • The requirement to break down data by subgroups for accountability purposes (states would still break down the data and report it publicly).

The Florida Board of Education met on March 17 and discussed the possibility of requesting this waiver. Before doing so, public comment must be solicited by March 31.

Action Alert

We encourage you to ask the FL DOE to request the federal waiver. Removing these accountability requirements will relieve pressure on schools, districts, and families during a time when flexibility is critical.

View the information on the FL DOE web site
View the draft waiver request the DOE plans to submit
Submit comments to the DOE about the waiver

The FL DOE also has the authority to remove the state-mandated high stakes being used for standardized tests through an Executive Order. Doing this immediately would relieve test-based anxiety for students and teachers going into the tests this Spring.

Contact the DOE and the BOE to ask them to remove the high stakes placed on tests at the state level, including:

  • Third grade retention (in cases where good cause exemptions are not appropriate)
  • Teacher evaluations based on standardized test scores
  • School grades (which are largely based on test scores)

Send the email to the Governor, the Commissioner of Education and Board of Education:

ron.desantis@myflorida.com
Commissioner@fldoe.org
Monesia.Brown@fldoe.org
marva.johnson@fldoe.org
joe.york@fldoe.org
andy.tuck@fldoe.org
Tom.Grady@fldoe.org
Ryan.Petty@fldoe.org

Let them know you want the state-mandated high stakes removed from the tests this Spring for the reasons mentioned here. If possible, include a personal story about how COVID has impacted your child’s education (through no fault of the school or the teachers) and how the high stakes placed on testing are impacting your child.

Save Bright Futures Scholarships

Senate Bill 86 (SB86) was recently introduced in the Florida Senate. If passed, this would impact student eligibility for the Bright Futures Scholarship, which currently provides students with college financial aid based on high school academic achievement.

SB 86 would require state Board of Governors and Board of Education to approve a list of career certificate, undergraduate, and graduate degree programs that “lead directly to employment.” Beginning with the 2022/2023 school year, the amount of financial aid students could receive would depend on if their selected major is on the approved list. If a student were to choose a different major, their funding could be cut off after 60 credit hours.

The bill would limit the amount of funding students could receive by taking AP exams or dual enrollment classes in high school, as well as those attending an AICE, Cambridge or IB programs, thus decreasing the overall amount of financial aid students could receive. It will also impact those currently in college who have applied for and received the aid.

Concerns with the bill

  • The Bright Futures Scholarship Program has been in existence since 1997, and many families have come to rely on this funding to pay for their child’s college education.
  • The scholarship helps prevent “brain drain” but keeping high performing students in the state. Reducing the amount of benefits might encourage more students to attend colleges out of state, which impacts Florida’s economy.
  • The bill would force students to select a major before applying for the scholarship. Not all students are ready to select a major at this time. Many benefit from attending a semester or two of college courses and meeting with college-level career counselors to select the career path that’s the best fit for them.
  • The state groups responsible for creating the approved list of degree programs are not typically trained in workforce development, and may not have the most updated information about the degrees employers seek. This information also varies widely among companies and industries.
  • The bill would provide no consistency for the program, leading to confusion about the eligibility and application process.  

Take Action

Florida PTA will likely have a Call to Action with additional talking points once the bill has a House companion and moves further along in the legislature. In the meantime, you can track the bill and take action now:

  • A statewide group of students was created to track and oppose the bill. Click here to learn more and join the effort and sign their petition.
  • Alliance for Public Schools also has a link that will allow you to contact the Governor, your state representatives, and the Senate Education Committee.

PTA Position

National PTA supports legislation and programs intended to increase postsecondary participation through assisting students’ secondary school completion and postsecondary enrollment by providing academic (which includes fine arts) services, parent and student counseling services, and college preparatory services, particularly those programs that will assist students with different learning styles, low-income students, and disadvantaged youth. National PTA also supports legislation and programs that foster an economically, culturally, and ethnically diverse student population by increasing federal grants to students and other forms of financial aid, simplifying the application process for applying for all forms of aid, improving and increasing access to information on financial assistance for postsecondary education, and expanding access to instate tuition levels.

District High Stakes Testing in Spring 2021

To say the past year has been tough for our students, families, teachers and school staff is an understatement. The pandemic has brought about uncertainty, inconsistency and disruption to our school environment. Teachers and students have adjusted to shifting learning environments, new technology, ongoing quarantines, and a myriad of understandable social and emotional concerns.

High stakes placed on standardized tests add to this existing burden and produce even more anxiety. ACCPTA is advocating at the state and district level that all high stakes decisions be removed from standardized tests given in Spring 2021.

The following letter was sent to the Alachua County School Board and school district leadership:


The mission of PTA’s everywhere is to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children.

Florida PTA and ACCPTA are advocating at the state level that schools, teachers and students be held harmless from state-level consequences associated with the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA) in Spring 2021. This includes student grade progression, teacher evaluations, school grades, and minimum testing requirements for schools. Our primary reasons are as follows:

  • This has been an extremely difficult and unprecedented year for our students, teachers, school staff and families. Due to the pandemic, the delivery of education has been met with inconsistency, barriers, and challenges, resulting in an uneven playing field.
  • During times like this, student and education staff mental health is just as important as academic progress. Alleviating the high stakes and punitive accountability placed on the FSA would minimize anxiety and stress on students, educators, other school staff and families.

We are aware of the value of utilizing progress monitoring as a means of identifying gaps and allocating resources. We do not oppose the use of assessments to improve learning and evaluate where additional supports are needed. Our concern is with the additional high stakes placed on tests, especially in the midst of a pandemic.

In Alachua County, families are concerned about the state-initiated high stakes, as well as with the ways the district and local schools typically use standardized test scores (including the FSA and AIMS tests). ACCPTA’s goal is to ensure that physical and mental health and safety of all children is highest priority in local decisions, and that assessments are used in the most equitable way possible with consideration for unique circumstances. With that in mind, we appeal to the Alachua County School District, middle, and high schools, to remove all high stakes attached to this year’s standardized test scores, including but not limited to:

  • Middle and high school magnet program admission.
  • Class placement in middle and high school.  

We believe that eliminating all high stakes will minimize pressure as well as social and emotional concerns for Alachua County students during a time when students and teachers are under an unusual amount of pressure. We appreciate the consideration of the district and local schools.