The nearly 2 million Florida students who take the state's standardized tests should not take other exams required by their school district two weeks before or after they take the state's, the Florida Senate's education committee decided Tuesday.
The panel approved a bill that creates a "buffer of non-testing time" around the time when students take the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (standardized tests in math, reading, science and writing taking by students in grades 3 to 10) and Florida's end-of-course exams (EOC's) in algebra, biology, geometry and U.S. history.
"As a policy, the state has embraced assessment and rightfully so," said Sen. John Legg, R-Lutz, the committee chairman and bill sponsor. "But I'm a big believer in ensuring implementation is done correctly."
Legg said he wanted to bring "order and clarity and structure" to Florida's annual testing season by eliminating other tests during the weeks right before and after it.
The hope is that buffer would "afford students time or instructional or other activities," according to a staff analysis of the bill.
As critics have complained about testing in Florida -- and that it eats up too much of the school year, among other issues -- some have argued school districts have made matters worse, by giving so many of their own tests, some that duplicate state efforts.
The education committee noted, for example, that Clay County schools gives a fourth-grade writing test -- though FCAT includes a writing test administered to fourth graders.
But some district administrators have countered that some of the other tests, even if locally selected, are mandated by the state, giving schools little choice but to test students on many days of the school year.
If the bill becomes a law, students could still take exams, if they were ones they chose to take, such as those that are part of Advanced Placement courses.