Tampa Bay parents ask state to cancel standardized tests due to pandemic

Local News

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A growing number of parents and teachers are calling on the state to cancel standardized testing because of the pandemic.

“They’re not going to take the FSA this year,” parent Jennifer Sabin said.

Sabin is opting out of testing for two of her children. She is a member of the group “Opt Out Polk,” and has opted out in past years.

And she’s not alone. There are similar groups in various bay area counties such as “Opt Out Pinellas.”

The Florida Department of Education recently extended testing by two weeks to give districts more time to safely conduct testing. The state is also requiring all testing be done in-person.

“Testing is just asinine at this point this year,” Polk Education Association President Stephanie Yocum said.

Yocum says the union supports testing being cancelled because of concerns about kids who have been learning from home being put at risk, and after a school year full of interruptions.

“There are some teachers and students who have been quarantined four or five times. So two weeks a pop, that’s a lot of instruction time lost,” said Yocum.

Yocum said she stands behind the Florida Education Association, which supports two bills under consideration in Florida that would remove penalties for state test results.

“The state says if schools don’t test at least 95% of their kids, they don’t get funding. They get an I for their school grade and there’s all this punitive stuff that happens,” said Yocum.

In the recent emergency order, the Department of Education extended testing by two weeks, saying testing is “more critical than ever” to see what kids have learned.

Parents like Sabin say that doesn’t help.

“The school is going to turn into a testing center for even longer. There will not be recess in some cases to avoid disruptions to the classroom and there’s going to be schedule changes as teachers have to proctor these tests as they are spread out over multiple days,” Sabin said.

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