New testing methods for schools proposed by governor, appeals court rules in favor of mask mandate ban

September 17, 2021
By Marcy Shortuse

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is making waves at the state’s schools once again with an announcement in the last few days, but this time it isn’t just about mask mandates. Just this week DeSantis proposed the elimination of the Florida Standards Assessment testing, a change that could change place for the next school year.

 DeSantis made the announcement at a news conference on Tuesday, Sept. 14 in Miami.

According to the governor’s proposal, the FSAs would be replaced by something called the Florida Assessment of Student Thinking, or FAST, plan. Instead of taking several days of testing at the end of the school year, students would take three much shorter tests throughout the year. DeSantis said this would not only minimize stress on children, it would leave room for student growth and opportunity to show improvement, as well as successfully completely eliminating the Common CORE method.

DeSantis said that the FAST method of testing would reduce testing time by an average of 75 percent.

The Island School currently utilizes progress monitoring throughout the school year, but if the FAST legislation is passed this will be the last year for FSA testing to be given.

Many are critical of FSA testing, as it doesn’t give an accurate portrayal of a student who doesn’t do well on tests but excels in school.

In mask mandate news, the 1st District Court of Appeal ruled Friday, Sept. 10 that a Tallahassee judge should not have lifted an automatic stay two days ago that halted enforcement of the mask mandate ban. Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper agreed in an August 27 order then on Wednesday lifted a stay that had blocked his ruling from taking effect.

Since the new school year began, parents of Florida students have been signing “opt out” forms to exclude their children from having to wear masks in school. This controversial public health issue has gone the way of many medical arguments in this day and age, and has turned into a political fight.

In fact, the matter has DeSantis at odds with the President himself. On Friday, Sept. 10 President Joe Biden’s administration initiated an investigation into whether Florida’s ban on mask mandates violates the civil rights of students with disabilities.

The question that federal Department of Education civil rights investigators hope to clear up is whether the state’s ban on mask mandates restricts and discriminates against students who have medical issues that make them more susceptible to COVID-19, depriving them of the right to safety attend school.

Upon hearing about the federal investigation, DeSantis’ press secretary Christina Pushaw responded, “Bring it,” on Twitter just minutes after the announcement was made.