Florida State School Board Must Re-examine Standardized Testing Law

Rick ScottA U.S. District Judge in Tallahassee, FL has announced plans to hold another hearing on a recent lawsuit to challenge the state law which prevents some elementary students from moving on to the fourth grade. The original lawsuit argues that requiring these students to take—and pass—a particular standardized taste is irrational; also stating that local and state officials have provided somewhat confusing instructions during the regular school year which has resulted in many students who opted out of taking the test not being able to move on tot he next grade.

But not all students who opted out; only some of them.

As such, circuit Judge Karen Gievers said, last week, that she may make a ruling soon on the request to block the law. However, on Tuesday she scheduled a hearing on Aug 22 to hear motions from many of the school districts affected by the law. In all there are six school districts affected: Broward, Hernando, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and Pasco.

With that, an attorney for the parents of students attending schools in these districts filed a motion, on Thursday, with the federal court asking to drop the claims under the US Constitution, leaving only the state claims. Andrea Mogensen, the lawyer, has also filed a request asking that the federal court return the case back to the state level.

In last week’s hearing, the judge made sure to note that she was sympathetic to the understandably emotional parents. However, she also argued that she needs to make sure she provided education officials with enough time to respond so that her decision would not be taken to—and overturned in—appellate court.

She tells, “I don’t like what I’m seeing as far as youngsters being made sand and being in classes they think they belong in, but I don’t have the legal authority, if I do my job right, to take away the right of every party to have enough time to properly prepare.”

Standardized tests like these are hallmarks of education reform that swept through the Sunshine state between the 1990s and early 2000s. They were intended to prevent “social promotion,” a trend which saw teachers giving passing grades on report cards so students would be able to move on with their peers even if they were not qualified to do so.