Central Florida school districts ask the state not to link standardized test scores to school grades

ORLANDO, Fla. — When students take the Florida State Assessment starting in April, they’ll have to do it face-to-face.

Now, school districts across Central Florida are pleading with state officials to go ahead with the tests without using the results against them.

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Good test scores can often lead to increased funding for a school.

For example, Edgewater High School in Orange County was given a “B” for the 2018-2019 school year and received $191,000 in award money.

However, the districts say 2021 just isn’t normal, and they know that many students are struggling, and they don’t want to be penalized with lower grades or less award money.

“That diagnostics of where our children are would be helpful for every student, but we do not believe that it should be used for punitive measures and placing labels on schools, and on students and teachers,” Orange County Superintendent Dr. Barbara Jenkins told the School Board Tuesday.

Seminole County Public Schools also sent a letter to the state saying they don’t want testing tied to district and school grades.

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Osceola County School Board member Julius Melendez agrees.

“It’s much more complicated than the state of Florida is giving us credit for,” Melendez says.

During the 2018 to 2019 school year, districts and schools did receive grades. “A” rated and improving schools received millions in awards.

More than $15.5 million went to schools in Orange, Seminole, and Osceola Counties.

The districts want the same grace this year, in part because they know some distance learners won’t go in for testing.

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“It is encouraged,” Dr. Jenkins says. “We cannot force any parent to come in for testing.”

State officials say they haven’t decided what to do with the test scores.

OCPS is still making plans for the FSA and currently surveying parents for input.

Cierra Putman, WFTV.com

Cierra Putman flew south to join Eyewitness News in July 2016.